This is one of the earliest known works by Berchem, and is generally consistent with Haarlem landscape painting of the 1640s. Though the painting has awkward passages, especially the female figure and the cow, the trees and sky are fluidly painted. Water may have been suggested in the lower right corner of the picture, but as in other areas of the ground this passage is now too thin to read closely.
The figure of the standing man is based on a drawing by Berchem of about 1643–44 (Rijksprentenkabinet, Amsterdam; Schatborn 1974, fig. 1), though the pose has been slightly modified in the right leg.
[2010; adapted from Liedtke 2007]
Inscription: Signed and dated (lower left): cBerghem [cB in monogram] 1644
[Monsieur Héris, Brussels, until 1846; his sale, Schoeters and Étienne Le Roy, Brussels, June 19–20, 1846, no. 6, for Bfr 650]; marquise Théodule de Rodes, Brussels (until d. 1867; her estate sale, Hôtel des Commissaires-Priseurs, Paris, May 30, 1868, no. 2, for Fr 1,020 to Gauchez); [Léon Gauchez, Paris, with Alexis Febvre, Paris, 1868–70; sold to Blodgett]; William T. Blodgett, Paris and New York (1870; sold half share to Johnston); William T. Blodgett, New York, and John Taylor Johnston, New York (1870–71; sold to MMA)
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "The Age of Rembrandt: Dutch Paintings in The Metropolitan Museum of Art," September 18, 2007–January 6, 2008, no catalogue.
Jules-Ferdinand Jacquemart. Etchings of Pictures in the Metropolitan Museum, New York. London, 1871, pl. .
Louis Decamps. "Un musée transatlantique (2e article)." Gazette des beaux-arts, 2nd ser., 5 (May 1872), p. 437.
Henry James. "The Metropolitan Museum's '1871 Purchase'." Atlantic Monthly (June 1872) [reprinted in John L. Sweeney, ed., "The Painter's Eye," London, 1956, pp. 59, 63], admires it, calling it slight but full of poetry and sentiment.
F[ritz von]. Harck. "Berichte und Mittheilungen aus Sammlungen und Museen, über staatliche Kunstpflege und Restaurationen, neue Funde: Aus amerikanischen Galerien." Repertorium für Kunstwissenschaft 11 (1888), p. 76.
C[ornelis]. Hofstede de Groot. Beschreibendes und Kritisches Verzeichnis der Werke der Hervorragendsten Holländischen Maler des XVII. Jahrhunderts. Vol. 9, Esslingen, Germany, 1926, pp. 222, 224, no. 618, identifies this work and no. 628b (no location given) as two pendants in the collection of Nicolaas van Bremen, Amsterdam, in 1752, and included in his sale of December 15, 1766, nos. 24 and 25.
Ilse von Sick. Nicolaes Berchem: ein Vorläufer des Rokoko. Berlin, 1930, p. 17, fig. 6, compares it with an old copy of a Berchem of 1647, "The Barrel Organ Player" (Wallraf-Richartz-Museum, Cologne); calls it "of extraordinary quality"; likens the mother's position to Elsheimer and the shepherd's to Teniers and Watteau.
Eckhard Schaar. "Studien zu Nicolaes Berchem." PhD diss., Universität Köln, 1958, pp. 14, 25 n. 22, dates it about 1647; likens the staffage to that in a scene with milkmaids (HdG 189) in the Koninklijk Museum voor Schone Kunsten, Antwerp, dated 1645; mentions other works similar to the Antwerp picture at Schleissheim and Windsor Castle.
Italy through Dutch Eyes: Dutch Seventeenth Century Landscape Artists in Italy. Exh. cat., University of Michigan Museum of Art. Ann Arbor, Mich., 1964, unpaginated, under no. 5, mentions it in connection with an early work of about 1645–46 in the Allen Memorial Art Museum, Oberlin College, Oberlin, Ohio ("Resting Shepherds," acc. no. 59.125).
Horst Gerson. "Italy Through Dutch Eyes." Art Quarterly 27, no. 3 (1964), p. 346.
Wolfgang Stechow. "Italianate Dutch Artists in the Allen Art Museum." Allen Memorial Art Museum Bulletin 22 (Fall 1964), p. 15, fig. 10, compares it with the Oberlin picture.
Maria Santifaller. "Giambattista Tiepolos Radierung 'Die Anbetung der Könige'." Pantheon 30 (November–December 1972), p. 486, fig. 3, refers to it as "Berchem's famous painting" and notes that it is the kind of peaceful landscape that inspired Tiepolo.
Peter Schatborn. "Figuurstudies van Nicolaes Berchem." Bulletin van het Rijksmuseum 22 (March 1974), pp. 6, 8, 11, 15–16 n. 11, fig. 5, believes it is most probably dated 1644; publishes a drawing by Berchem for the standing shepherd (Rijksprentenkabinet, Amsterdam; fig. 1).
Peter Schatborn. Dutch Figure Drawings from the Seventeenth Century. Exh. cat., Rijksprentenkabinet, Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam. The Hague, 1981, p. 67, fig. 2, p. 130, under no. 11.
Christopher White. The Dutch Pictures in the Collection of Her Majesty the Queen. Cambridge, 1982, p. 22, under no. 21, includes it in a group of early works by Berchem influenced by Pieter van Laer.
Katharine Baetjer. "Buying Pictures for New York: The Founding Purchase of 1871." Metropolitan Museum Journal 39 (2004), pp. 170, 173, 197, 221–22, 245, appendix 1A no. 159, ill. p. 221 and fig. 12, includes the Van Bremen sale of 1766 in the provenance of the picture [see Ref. Hofstede de Groot 1926].
Esmée Quodbach. "The Age of Rembrandt: Dutch Paintings in The Metropolitan Museum of Art." Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin 65 (Summer 2007), pp. 7, 68.
Walter Liedtke. Dutch Paintings in The Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York, 2007, vol. 1, pp. 25–26, no. 5, colorpl. 5, rejects Hofstede de Groot's [see Ref. 1926] identification of this work with the painting in the Nicolaas van Bremen collection.