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This picture shows a shepherd at rest, reading, while his sheep are gathered nearby. With its loving treatment of the trees and intense colour and light, Linnell’s painting carefully fabricates an ideal of the countryside as a place of plenty and ease. It was, though, created at a time when agriculture and rural labour were undergoing traumatic changes.Linnell’s depiction of the landscape reflects his passion for the scenery around his home at Redhill, Surrey. Like his friend, Samuel Palmer, he presented a vision of the British landscape rich in poetic and spiritual associations.

July 2007