Bridge and Cows

WAG 4475


This print, 'Bridge and Cows', is plate 2 of Turner's 'Liber Studiorum' series. It is an example of the 'Pastoral' category of landscape painting. It was published with the 1st part of the series on 20 January 1807. Pastoral works of art and literature reflected the urban population’s envy for the idealized life of shepherds who worked and lived in the beautiful setting of the countryside. This particular image was criticised by Turner’s most passionate supporter, John Ruskin (1819 – 1900), for its ‘feeling of decay’. This was probably a reflection of how ‘pastoral’ scenes had become unfashionable by that time. The 'Liber Studiorum' illustrated Turner’s arguments for the supremacy of landscape painting. The title means ‘book of studies’ in Latin. It contained no written text, instead it was made up of individual mezzotint prints on paper. They were released in fourteen parts from around 1807 until 1819. Turner intended the 'Liber' to consist of 100 prints but only 71 were ultimately produced. The prints reflected the five categories of landscape painting Turner believed existed: architectural, historical, marine, mountainous and pastoral. Turner wrote an initial on each work to indicate which category it belonged to.