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Oil painting - Ploughing in Bavaria
  • Ploughing in Bavaria
    Schleich, Eduard, born 1812 - died 1874
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Ploughing in Bavaria

  • Object:

    Oil painting

  • Place of origin:

    Bavaria (painted)

  • Date:

    ca. 1851 (painted)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Schleich, Eduard, born 1812 - died 1874 (artist)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    oil on canvas

  • Credit Line:

    Bequeathed by Rev. Chauncey Hare Townshend

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    Paintings, Room 82, The Edwin and Susan Davies Galleries, case EAST WALL

Schleich trained in Munich as a history painter, but soon began to paint landscapes of his native Bavaria. Here the small figures of ploughmen labouring on the wide plain before a distant mountain range evoke a mood of quiet melancholy.

Physical description

Oil painting

Place of Origin

Bavaria (painted)


ca. 1851 (painted)


Schleich, Eduard, born 1812 - died 1874 (artist)

Materials and Techniques

oil on canvas

Marks and inscriptions

'Ed. Schleich'
Signed by the artist, lower right


Height: 30.5 cm estimate, Width: 66 cm estimate, Width: 82 cm frame, Height: 48.2 cm frame, Weight: 6.5 kg with frame

Object history note

Rev. C. H. Townshend. Listed in the 1868 post-mortem register of the contents of Townshend's London house (V&A R/F MA/1/T1181) in 'the Fossil and mineral room' as by E. Schleich; 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: For a similar ploughing scene by Schleich, with a plough also drawn by an ox and a horse, set in an expansive meadow before a panoramic view of the Alps see the slightly smaller composition (25.8 x 55cm), dated around 1851, in the Georg Schaefer collection, Scweinfurt (Inv. Nr. 3922; see Erika Roediger-Diruf & Helga Walter-Dresser, Biedermeier und Vormaerz. Gesichter einer Epoche. Spitzweg, Schwind, Schleich , exhibition catalogue, Staedtische Galerie, Karlsruhe 1984, p.147, no. 38.

By 1851 Schleich increasingly depicted panoramic views, with elongated proportions between 1:2 and 1:3; a choice of format perhaps related to panoramic photographs which he could have seen at the Great Exhibition of 1851. This characteristic, and the sharp focus of his landscapes may have been especially congenial to the Rev. Chauncey Hare Townshend, who was also a major early patron of landscape photography.

Historical context note

Eduard Schleich (1812-74) studied at the Munich Academy, and privately. He was initially influenced by the landscape style of Carl Rottmann (1797-1850) and Christian Morgenstern (1805-1867, and painted clear and simple mountain landscapes of Upper Bavaria and the Tyrol, conditioned by his study of 17th century Dutch landscapes. In 1851 he visited Paris with Karl Spitzweg in 1851, where he was impressed at the Salon by the works of the Barbizon School, and London, where he visited the Great Exhibition and encountered paintings by John Constable and Richard Parkes Bonington. Subsequently he settled in Munich and became one of the leading landscape painters of the Munich school. The figures in his landscapes were often added by friends, such as Friedrich Voltz (1817-86).

The term ‘Biedermeier’ refers to bourgeois life and art in Germanic Europe, an extensive area embracing such cities as Copenhagen, Berlin, Vienna and Prague, from 1815 (the Congress of Vienna) to the revolutions of 1848. Biedermeier painters were ideologically opposed to academic and religious painting and favoured such subject matter as portraits, landscapes and genre scenes, with still-lifes, especially of flowers. They share a similar technique in the use of separate, clear tones and a high degree of finish, reminiscent of Neo-Classicism while they tend to convey a greater sentimentality. By the 1880s, the influence of this artistic movement was on the wane and was even used pejoratively to characterize the reactionary bourgeois elements in society, which remained quite indifferent to social problems and cultivated a sense of order and sobriety, especially in the private sphere and the domestic realm.

Descriptive line

Oil painting depicting ploughing in Bavaria by Eduard Schleich, painted ca.1850, probably in Bavaria

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

Kauffmann, C.M. Catalogue of Foreign Paintings, II. 1800-1900 . London: Victoria and Albert Museum, 1973, p. 93, cat. no. 201.

For a general account of the artist, see:
Erika Roediger-Diruf & Helga Walter-Dresser, Biedermeier und Vormaerz. Gesichter einer Epoche. Spitzweg, Schwind, Schleich , exhibition catalogue, Staedtische Galerie, Karlsruhe 1984, pp.34-5, 144-50, 240-48.

Siegfried Wichmann, Meister, Schueler, Themen. Muenchener Landschaftsmaler im 19. Jahrhundert , Herrsching 1981, pp.50-51, 68-9, 82-3, 110-130, 135-139, 142-3, 153, 168-178, 182-185, 269.


Oil paint; Canvas


Oil painting

Subjects depicted

Plough; Landscape




Prints, Drawings & Paintings Collection

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