Catalogue entry

T00048 STUDY FOR JOACHIM AMONG THE SHEPHERDS 1912

Inscr. ‘S. Spencer 1912’ b.r.
Pen, pencil and wash, 16×14 5/8 (40·5×37), on sheet 22 1/8×15 (56·25×38).
Chantrey Purchase from Miss Lillian Browse 1955.
Coll: Sir Cyril Kendall Butler, from whom purchased by Miss Lillian Browse in 1940.
Exh: N.E.A.C., winter 1912 (5), as ‘Joachim among the sheepcotes’; British Painting since Whistler, National Gallery, 1940 (326), as ‘Joachim among the Shepherds’; Temple Newsam, Leeds, July–September 1947 (76); British Council, Contemporary British Paintings and Drawings, South Africa, 1947–8 (108); Arts Council, 1955 (15); R.A., 1956 (690).
Lit: John Rothenstein, Modern English Painters: Lewis to Moore, 1956, p.175; Collis, 1962, pp.26–7, 243.
Repr: Wilenski, 1924, pl.31; Rothenstein, 1945, pl.4; Michael Ayrton, British Drawings, 1946, pl.40, facing p. 41 (in colour).

There are slight pencil sketches for the heads of the figures below the main drawing, which is a detailed study for the painting of ‘Joachim among the Shepherds’ owned by J.L. Behrend. It was painted in 1912, soon after the artist left the Slade School, and was influenced by Ruskin's book on the Arena Chapel, Giotto and his Works in Padua, given to him by Gwen and Jacques Raverat. The incident is seen in the setting of everyday Cookham.

In the Cook and Wedderburn edition of Ruskin's Works, XXIV, p. 50, against the Dalziel woodcut after Giotto's ‘Joachim retires to the Sheepfold’ appears the following quotation: ‘Then Joachim, in the following night, resolved to separate himself from companionship; to go to the desert places among the mountains, with his flocks; and to inhabit those mountains, in order not to hear such insults. And immediately Joachim rose from his bed, and called about him all his servants and shepherds, and caused to be gathered together all his flocks,... and went with them and with the shepherds into the hills...’

The drawing differs from the finished oil painting in several respects, since in the latter the figure of Joachim on the right has been brought to the foreground of the composition and the landscape vista eliminated, leaving instead a closed arch of foliage. The trellis also is omitted. The shepherds are in roughly the same postures in both designs, but the farthest man is shown bareheaded in the final painting. Joachim holds a sheep, and the one originally in the foreground has been taken out.

A watercolour, 7 5/8×4 5/8 in., showing the three foreground figures to the left of the main composition, was sold at Sotheby's, 4 November 1959 (4), and bought by David Gibbs.

Published in:
Mary Chamot, Dennis Farr and Martin Butlin, The Modern British Paintings, Drawings and Sculpture, London 1964, II