A Rocky Southern Landscape with Two Peasant Women and their Flock and Cattle halting near a Stream

Oil on Panel
Signed and Dated: "Berghem/ 1656"
11 5/8 x 9 7/16 inches, 29.5 x 24 cm
Essay: 

It is not known for certain if Berchem ever visited Italy as so many of his fellow painters did. The present composition is clearly reminiscent of the landscape of Italy, with familiar pine and cypress trees near a great farm estate. Another signed version of this composition, with minor differences, was recorded in the Alte Pinakothek, Munich, by 1904 (inv. no. 598) and is currently located in Bamberg, Bavaria. However, of the two, only the present work is dated. In the same year, Berchem painted another quite similar composition now in the Gemldegalerie Alte Meister, Dresden. This large painting shows a a shepherdess herding her cows and goats, but with the castle of Bentheim in the background. Many contemporaries such as Jacob van Ruisdael (1628/29-1682) visited Bentheim and used it as the centre of their work. As this work bears the same date, one is inclined to think that Berchem repeated these greater compositions on a smaller scale with a new Italianate tone, following the fashion of the day.

Provenance: 

Pieter Rainer by 1834;H. Wetzlar, Amsterdam

Literature: 

C. Hofstede de Groot, Beschreibendes und kritisches Verzeichnis der Werke..., vol. IX, Esslingen/Paris 1926, p. 138, cat. no. 300.