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This painting shows an idealised landscape. The Irish painter, George Barret, made up his views from stock motifs such as cottages, watermills, peasants and cattle.They may seem artificial now but in their time these landscapes were appreciated for their naturalness. Contemporary art theory said that painting should represent a higher form of reality in which the ugliness and disorder of the real world were suppressed, in favour of aesthetic harmony. Barret’s pictures embodied this idea and he became one of the most successful landscape artists working in London in the 1760s and 1770s.

May 2007