Or are you looking for Search the Archives?

Please complete the form to email this item.

Oil painting - Watering Cattle
  • Watering Cattle
    Verboeckhoven, Eugène, born 1798 - died 1881
  • Enlarge image

Watering Cattle

  • Object:

    Oil painting

  • Place of origin:

    Brussels (painted)

  • Date:

    1845 (painted)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Verboeckhoven, Eugène, born 1798 - died 1881 (artist)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Oil on panel

  • Credit Line:

    Bequeathed by Rev. Chauncey Hare Townshend

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    In Storage

Eugène Joseph Verboeckhoven (1798-1881) was taught at first by his father, the sculptor Barthélemy Verboeckhoven, before attending the Ghent Academy where he was a pupil of the landscape painter Balthasar-Paul Ommeganck (1755-1826). He moved to Brussels in 1827, where he became director of the Musée de Bruxelles and later a teacher at the Académie Royale. He had many pupils among whom Louis-Pierre Verwée (1807-1877), the brothers Charles (1815-1894) and Edmond Tschaggeny (1818-1873). He also painted staffage for other painters' landscapes such as Jean-Baptiste De Jonghe (1785-1844), Henri van Assche (1774-1841), Barend Cornelis Koekkoek (1803-1862) and Louis-Pierre Verwée. He was also a prolific engraver.

This painting is a good example of Verboeckhoven's classical landscapes, a category in which he specialised soon under the influence of his master Balthasar-Paul Ommeganck. The present painting, showing a cottage on the left hand-side with a woman holding a jug, a man astride and another standing beside him with cattle and other farm animals around, is strongly reminiscent of the 17th-century imagery, which is consider the golden age of landscape and genre painting in the Netherlands.

Physical description

A cottage on the left hand-side with a woman holding a jug, a man astride and another standing beside him are conversing with her. A cow is drinking from a trough while many other farm animals are grazing nearby.

Place of Origin

Brussels (painted)


1845 (painted)


Verboeckhoven, Eugène, born 1798 - died 1881 (artist)

Materials and Techniques

Oil on panel

Marks and inscriptions

Eugène Verboeckhoven ft. 1845
signed and dated lower centre


Height: 43.8 cm approx., Width: 59 cm approx., :

Object history note

Bequeathed by Rev. Chauncey Hare Townshend, 1868
Ref : Parkinson, Ronald, Catalogue of British Oil Paintings 1820-1860. Victoria & Albert Museum, HMSO, London, 1990. p.xix.

'Chauncy Hare Townshend (1798-1868) was born into a wealthy family, only son of Henry Hare Townsend of Busbridge Hall, Godalming, Surrey. Educated at Eton and Trinity Hall, Cambridge (BA 1821). Succeeded to the family estates 1827, when he added 'h' to the Townsend name. He had taken holy orders, but while he always referred to himself as 'Rev.' on the title pages of his books, he never practised his vocation... . Very much a dilettante in the eighteenth-century sense, he moved in the highest social and literary circles; a great friend of Charles Dickens (he was the dedicatee of Great Expectations) with whom he shared a fascination of mesmerism... Bulwer Lytton described his life's 'Beau-deal of happiness' as 'elegant rest, travel, lots of money - and he is always ill and melancholy'. Of the many watercolours and British and continental oil paintings he bequeathed to the V&A, the majority are landscapes. He is the first identifiable British collector of early photographs apart from the Prince Consort, particularly landscape photography, and also collected gems and geological specimens.'

Historical significance: This painting is a good example of Eugène Joseph Verboeckhoven's landscape paintings, a category in which he specialised under the influence of his master, the classical landscape painter Balthasar-Paul Ommeganck. The present landscape showing a cottage and, in front it, a woman in typical Dutch outfit with a white headgear and apron, travelling peasants and cattle relates to the 17th-century genre painting, i.e. pictures that usually depict scenes of everyday life set in domestic interiors or in the countryside, including battle scenes and merry company.
As a matter of fact, this composition is quite close to a Nicolaes Berchem's painting engraved by Johannes Visscher: Times of Day: Aurora (Holstein, 1. II) in which one can see a cottage on the left, with peasants, cattle and a donkey. This trend may have been also encouraged by the little evolution of the life in the countryside since the 17th century with almost identical ways of dressing and living.
Verboeckhoven's palette also imitates the bright and vivid colouring of the great 17th century landscapists, especially Nicolaes Berchem and Paulus Potter who were able to convey a sense of wide open space bathed in the sunlight. He consequently took over the idea of a low horizon line that enables him to depict a wide sky in which the clouds reflect the effects of light in open air.
Art from the Golden Age was extremely appealing to landscape painters of the 19th century also because it represented a national glory and showed motifs such as cattle, modest life in the countryside, great perspective plans that were part of the national pride renewed in those years of political changes: the kingdom of the Netherlands unifying the northern and the southern Netherlands was proclaimed in 1815, and even after the independence of modern Belgium, the links remained strong.
Verboeckhoven's work shows little evolution, but his paintings were very popular and rather expensive: he received several prestigious commissions and obtained titles and decorations throughout Europe.

Historical context note

The artistic relationship between the Northern and the Southern Netherlands, that is modern-day Holland and Belgium, were very strong during the 19th century especially after the proclamation of the Kingdom of Netherlands in 1815. The Prix de Rome was awarded equally to Antwerp and Amsterdam artists, even after the independence of Belgium in 1830 and the great tradition of the Golden Age was still vivid in the first half of the century. The majority of Belgian art of the first half of the 19th century, including history painting, genre scenes, landscape and portrait paintings, articulated a new national pride which nevertheless drew upon French academic taste. Such artists as Jean-Bernard Duvivier (1762-1837), Henry Leys (1815-1869) and Karel Verlat (1824-1890) made extensive use of these renewed genres in their oeuvre. Focusing on the achievement of a greater realism, Belgian artists travelled a great deal, not only for training purposes in the tradition of their artistic predecessors but for the sake of discovering new surroundings and making new acquaintances: Paris was the favourite destination. While Italy also remained a popular destination, the majority of these artists tended to move on to other areas of interest, such as Morocco, less for their artistic traditions, and more for their exotic aspects.

Descriptive line

Oil Painting, 'Watering Cattle', Eugène Verboeckhoven, 1845

Bibliographic References (Citation, Note/Abstract, NAL no)

Kauffmann, C.M., Catalogue of Foreign Paintings, II. 1800-1900, London: Victoria and Albert Museum, 1973, p. 101, cat. no. 221.
Waagen, Galleries and Cabinets of Art in Great Britain: Being an account of more than forty collections of Paintings, Drawings, Sculptures, Mss, etc, London, 1857, pp.176-7.


Oil paint; Panel


Oil painting

Subjects depicted

Cottage; Figures; Animals; Landscape; Cattle




Prints, Drawings & Paintings Collection

Large image request

Please confirm you are using these images within the following terms and conditions, by acknowledging each of the following key points:

Please let us know how you intend to use the images you will be downloading.