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Oil painting - The Cowherd
  • The Cowherd
    Menn, Barthélemy, born 1815 - died 1893
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The Cowherd

  • Object:

    Oil painting

  • Place of origin:

    Switzerland (probably, painted)

  • Date:

    1843-1868 (painted)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Menn, Barthélemy, born 1815 - died 1893 (painter (artist))

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Oil on paper laid on cardboard

  • Credit Line:

    Bequeathed by Rev. Chauncey Hare Townshend

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    In Storage

Barthélemy Menn (1815-1893) was born in Geneva where he was taught by W. A. Töpffer and subsequently by Léonard Lugardon (1801-1884), a former pupil of Ingres and jean-Antoine Gros. Menn later studied with Ingres and followed him in Rome. He mostly produced portraits and landscapes close to the school of Barbizon although he made his debut with historical subjects. He taught for 40 years and had many pupils among whom the most famous is Ferdinand Hodler (1853-1918).

This painting is a fine example of Menn's second manner, when he was attracted by a freer approach of nature under the influence of Corot and the school of Barbizon. It shows a cowherd leading his cattle accross a stream. Although this work is not dated, it was most likely executed during one of his stay in France or Switzerland between the 1850s and 1868, date of the transfer of the painting in the collection of the museum.

Physical description

An oil painting depicting a cowherd, on horseback, leading his cattle home at sunset.

Place of Origin

Switzerland (probably, painted)


1843-1868 (painted)


Menn, Barthélemy, born 1815 - died 1893 (painter (artist))

Materials and Techniques

Oil on paper laid on cardboard

Marks and inscriptions

'B. Menn'
Signed by the artist, lower left


Height: 20.3 cm estimate painting, Width: 29.2 cm estimate painting, Height: 345 mm frame, Width: 430 mm frame, Depth: 65 mm frame

Object history note

Rev. Chauncey Hare Townshend, listed in the 1868 post-mortem register of the contents of his villa in Lausanne (V&A R/F MA/1/T1181) as 'Oil on millboard. Cowherd. By B. Menn. In frame. Signed. Swiss. Present century'; bequeathed by Rev. Chauncey Hare Townshend, 1868.

Historical significance: The subject matter is reminiscent of 17th-century Dutch paintings but also results from the revived interest in direct observation of nature. The free and broad pictorial approach is typical of the Realist painting emerged in France in the 1840s and epitomised in landscape painting by the school of Barbizon. Menn composed several similar compositions, more often free of figures.
Such landscape paintings were particularly fashionable during the 19th century and the present painting is one of a group of 6 works by Menn, originally owned by the Rev. Townshend who gathered a rich collection of 19th-century landscape paintings. It is possible that Townshend acquired directly the painting from the artist as he had the habit of spending the winter in Lausanne, situated not far from Geneva.

Descriptive line

Oil Painting, 'The Cowherd', Barthélemy Menn, Swiss school, 1843-1868

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

Kauffmann, C.M. Catalogue of Foreign Paintings, II. 1800-1900 , London: Victoria and Albert Museum, 1973, pp. 70-72, cat. no. 159.


Oil paint; Paper; Cardboard


Oil painting

Subjects depicted

Figure; Landscape; Stream; Cattle




Prints, Drawings & Paintings Collection

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