A young Dutch shepherd pauses in a bright clearing to entertain himself with a pipe. Though the subject has overtones of the Classicizing pastoral, a type of poetry and painting dealing with the lives and loves of nymphs and shepherds, Artz sets the scene squarely in the Netherlands. The boy's cap, his blue shirt and scarf, and his short trousers were Dutch peasant garb in the 19th century.
A keen observer of the art of Josef Israëls and a friend of Gustave Courbet, Artz was an important member of the Hague School. He and his fellow artists sought inspiration in their immediate surroundings, depicting the lives of the people in tones and brushwork reminiscent of French Barbizon paintings. Artz lived in Paris from 1866 to 1874.