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A Lady as a Shepherdess

John Greenhillc.1665

Dulwich Picture Gallery

Dulwich Picture Gallery

In the past this painting was thought to depict one of the wives of William Cartwright (1607-86), the actor who donated his collection of paintings to Dulwich College in 1686. This idea was supported by the inventory for his collection which mentions his ‘first wifes picture Like a Sheppardess.’

However, Cartwright's first wife died in 1637, five years before the painter of this work was born, suggesting that this could not possibly be a contemporary portrait of her.

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Details

  • Title: A Lady as a Shepherdess
  • Date: c.1665
  • Physical Dimensions: w7300 x h9430 cm
  • Type: Painting
  • Medium: Oil
  • Work Nationality: British
  • Support: Canvas
  • Provenance: London, William Cartwright (inventory no. 78: 'my first wifes pictur Like a Sheppardess'); Cartwright Bequest, 1686.
  • Inscriptions: J. G.
  • Further Information: The discreetly bejewelled shepherdess clearly once carried a palm of martyrdom in her left hand which, with the lamb and the prominent, distant tower, suggests she was first painted as St Agnes, the patroness of those about to be married. Historically she has been identified with no.78 in Cartwright's inventory, described as 'my first wifes pictur Like a Sheppardess...'. However, a label on the verso identifies the picture almost certainly as no.186, which occurs on one of the missing pages of the inventory. The hairstyle and costume suggest a date in the mid-1660s.
  • Artist: Greenhill, John
  • Acquisition Method: Cartwright, William (Bequest, 1686)

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