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Oil painting - Landscape with figures and cattle
  • Landscape with figures and cattle
    Loutherbourg, Philip James de, born 1740 - died 1812
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Landscape with figures and cattle

  • Object:

    Oil painting

  • Date:

    ca. 1760-1812 (painted)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Loutherbourg, Philip James de, born 1740 - died 1812 (artist)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Oil on canvas

  • Credit Line:

    Given by James Orrock

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    In Storage

Philip James de Loutherbourg (1740-1812) was a painter, illustrator and stage designer, active in both France and England. He trained in Paris under Carle Vanloo and travelled to Italy, Germany and Switzerland before settling in London in 1771. In London he met the English actor-manager David Garrick, who employed him as his chief scene designer at Drury Lane Theatre. The scene designs he produced reflected his skill as a landscape painter. Landscapes with figures and cattle was a recurring theme in Loutherbourg's repertoire and he exhibited several paintings under this title at the Royal Academy between 1772 and 1811.


ca. 1760-1812 (painted)


Loutherbourg, Philip James de, born 1740 - died 1812 (artist)

Materials and Techniques

Oil on canvas

Marks and inscriptions

P I de Loutherbourg


Height: 43 in estimate, Width: 55 in estimate, Height: 1325 mm Frame, Width: 1610 mm frame, Depth: 70 mm frame

Object history note

Given by James Orrock, 1892
James Orrock (1829-1913) gave up dentistry to become a professional painter in 1866. He was elected to the New Watercolour society (later the Royal Institute of Painters in Water Colours). He was influential and active in the affairs of the society and as the DNB notes "possessed a confident gift for self-promotion". He used the full force of his personality to promote the tradition of English watercolour in pamphlets and articles, and was also a great collector of watercolours. He had a lucrative additional career as a dealer and Lord Leverhulme purchased almost all of his art collection. But during his own lifetime, Orrock made gifts of paintings from his collection to the V&A, including 8 oil paintings. The V&A also has one oil by Orrock himself (1829-1900), and nine watercolours; one from the Dixon bequest, two from the Ashbee Bequest, and five gifts from the artist.
See B. Webber James Orrock, Painter, Connoisseur, Collector, 2 vols, 1903

Historical significance: Philippe Jacques De Loutherbourg (1740-1812) landscape painter and theatrical scene designer, was born in Strasbourg, Alsace. He was the son of a miniaturist and engraver to the court of Darmstadt. He studied at the University of Strasbourg with a view to becoming an engineer, but his interest in drawing led to him undertaking formal artistic training with Carle Van Loo. He also studied engraving and exhibited his first paintings at the Paris Salon in 1763; he was noted by Diderot for his ability to depict space and atmosphere. He was a great success in Paris, but personal unhappiness probably spurred him to leave to go on the grand tour in 1768, visiting southern France, and on to the Rhineland rather than the usual Italian cities, (he is supposed to have visited Switzerland at this time, but see catalogue entry for 1028-1886),. He then travelled on to London in 1771, with a letter of introduction from Jean Monnet, the former manager of the Opéra Comique, and friend of the famous actor David Garrick; Garrick in turn was patron to a number of London painters. At first he stayed with a colleague of Garrick's, and soon after his arrival, de Loutherbourg suggested to Garrick major changes to the scenery arrangements at Drury Lane Theatre. Garrick was impressed and employed de Loutherbourg to take on all such arrangements. Thereafter de Loutherbourg's career was significantly devoted to often pioneering theatrical design, including lighting effects. At the same time he continued to work as an easel painter, and in 1781 he was elected a member of the Royal Academy. Following his election he concentrated to a greater extent on his easel painting, taking tours of the British countryside. During the 1790s, recognising the currency of Britain's naval prowess, he painted a number of paintings which celebrated this aspect of national life. At the turn of the century collections of engravings after his paintings of British scenery were published; The Picturesque Scenery of Great Britain (1801) and The Romantic and Picturesque Scenery of England and Wales (1805). Along with other notable artists he also contributed to Thomas Macklin's Bible (1800) and to Robert Bowyer's History of England (1812), published the year he died.

This landscape, with figures and cattle, is undated but is signed along the bottom edge, almost directly under the cow seated at the far left. E.B. Chancellor in his 1910 Walks Among London's Pictures (p.256), commented, "A fine and splendid piece of work, in which, however, the cattle rather overbalance the picture, and one would have liked more landscape and less beef". The focus on cattle however was very much to the taste of the late 18th century British audience for whom de Loutherbourg originally painted this work. His landscape style was much influenced by the Dutch and Flemish naturalism of the 17th century, and there are strong echoes in this work of the paintings of Aelbert Cuyp. De Loutherbourg has merely brought the human, rustic element up to date, with a somewhat daring incident playing out lower right of a young man helping a young woman, who has apparently hurt her ankle. It is a conventional composition, and also somewhat theatrical, with the main figures of the cattle and young couple situated in a discrete foreground area, the landscape situated much more like a scenic backdrop rather than an observed naturally receding view.

Descriptive line

Oil painting on canvas, 'Landscape with Figures and Cattle' Philip James de Loutherbourg, ca. 1760 - 1812


Oil paint; Canvas


Oil painting

Subjects depicted

Landscape; Figures (representations); Cattle




Prints, Drawings & Paintings Collection

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