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Franz von Lenbach - The Shepherd Boy

by Alexandra Tuschka

"Enough work!", the boy seems to think to himself, who has lain down here sprawling on the hill. A small butterfly flies up to keep him company while he pauses. Various plants sway in the gentle breeze of this mild day.

To protect himself from the midday sun, the boy has brought his left hand in front of his eyes. The leg is bent in a relaxed manner, the right arm could not be stretched out further. The sky is cloudless and deep blue. The first owner of the work - Count Schack - was also about to join the boy "in divine laziness to be warmed by the midday rays." Franz von Lenbach shows a day when the viewer is also invited to let the work rest.

Originally, the boy was to become part of a larger composition - but in the later process of finding the picture, it became an independent motif. The title of the picture and the lederhosen suggest that the boy is in southern Germany. Furthermore, we do not know who the boy is, let alone what is behind the hill. The blanking out of this information also symbolizes the inner blanking out of any superfluities and distractions.

In a sense, this work crowns the artist's early work and preoccupation with realistic genre scenes. Later Lenbach would increasingly make a name for himself as a portrait painter.

Franz von Lenbach - The Shepherd Boy

Oil on canvas, 1860, 107.7 x 154.4 cm, Neue Pinakothek in Munich


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