The Shepherdess

WAG 434


Clausen did not show the hardship of rural life in his work. He preferred to create beautiful country scenes in a naturalistic style. He painted outdoors and was fascinated by different light effects. The model for this painting was Polly Baldwin, the family’s nurse-maid. The painting was displayed at the New English Art Club’s first exhibition in 1886. With her rather awkward pose and enormous boots the shepherdess has that authentic peasant appearance sought by Clausen and the other British followers of Jules Bastien-Lepage, a French artist much admired by the first members of the New English Art Club. The background rising sharply up behind the figure is another characteristic of Bastien-Lepage’s style. This painting was acquired by John Maddocks of Bradford for £50 as soon as it was finished. Maddocks was the most important contemporary patron of progressive young British artists in the 1880’s and by 1891 he owned over ten paintings by Clausen.