Anton Mauve grew up in Haarlem but from 1882 to 1885 spent three successive summers in Laren, where he subsequently made his home. He was struck by the landscape around Laren and his letters to his wife contain enthusiastic accounts of his rambles in the area. Sheep had featured in Mauve’s paintings even before he went to live in Laren but after 1885 they become a key motif, gradually replacing his earlier cows. From that time on, he had the opportunity to observe sheep at different times of the year and in different settings (for example, on the heath or in and around the barns where they were kept in winter). Mauve painted Flock of sheep with shepherd in the snow shortly before his death. The most striking feature of the painting is the rapid brushwork with which he captured the snow-covered landscape and the flock of sheep. Without paying much attention to detail or focusing on the individual sheep, Mauve creates a successful evocation of a flock ploughing through deep snow.
Source: S. de Bodt, M. Plomp (eds.), Anton Mauve 1838-1888, Haarlem, Laren 2009.