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Feast & Fast

The Art of Food in Europe, 1500 – 1800

53: Landscape with shepherds

Landscape with shepherds This large canvas portrays an idyllic pastoral scene of prosperous country life with shepherds tending a mixed flock at early dawn, with fruit-laden trees at right, and a majestic mountain range in the distance. With its timeless feel and gentle pace, Bassano’s painting can be interpreted as a Renaissance Arcadia, with man living in complete harmony with nature. Although the serenity belies the hard physical work of shepherding, several details shed light on animal husbandry in mountainous regions. A shepherd-boy checks the fresh spring water that his lamb is about to drink, while his kneeling companion, surrounded by large wooden milk-tubs, appears to be in the process of milking his ewes.

Francesco Bassano the Younger (c.1549 – 92)

Venice, Italy, c.1570 – 85

Oil on canvas

Founder’s Bequest, 1816 (114)

Conserved by Molly Hughes-Hallett at the Hamilton Kerr Institute

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