Oil on oak panel, signed on lower right
Purchased with the aid of the National Art Collections Fund, the MLA/V&A Purchase Grant Fund, the Elias Ashmole Group, the Tradescants and the Friends of the Ashmolean in 2004
Like many Dutch artists of the 17 th century, Aelbert Cuyp draws our attention to the beauty and pleasure that exists in ordinary subjects. The light of the setting sun, breaking through the clouds, adds a feeling of quiet poetry to the scene. The sunset is the chief subject of this picture. The herdsman on the left, seated in the shadow, investigates his shirt, unaware of the light streaming across the pasture, while the cow in the centre stares into the glow of the setting sun. Two other herdsmen, seated on the high bank on the right, look out across the sunlit valley below, absorbed, perhaps, in the beauty of the view as they wait for the onset of evening when they will return home with their flocks.