Shepherd with His Dog depicts an idyllic pastoral scene, in which a young man leans against a tree stump accompanied by his dog and a sheep at his feet. The dog looks lovingly up at his master, but the youth appears to be gazing elsewhere. Perhaps he is looking in the direction of another figure, because this sculpture was intended to be one of a pair.
The sculpture's companion piece, Lady Feeding a Sheep with Hay, features a shepherdess leaning on a gate feeding a pet lamb. As was customary in porcelain figure production, the two are based on an engraving-Shepherd and Shepherdess by Angelica Kauffmann. Shepherd with His Dog may also be inspired by a famous sixteenth-century Roman statue, Antinous, of a youthful-looking male in the same pose.
This elegant fourteen-inch sculpture made of white biscuit porcelain was produced at the Derby Porcelain Factory in England. (Biscuit is a type of unglazed porcelain admired for its marble-like appearance.) Shepherd with His Dog is thought to have been modeled by the highly talented but little-known Swiss porcelain artist Johann Jakob Wilhelm Spängler. The sculpture was originally attributed to two of Spängler's contemporaries, but scholars now believe it to be Spängler's work due to its refined style, graceful lines, and crisp detail.