Johannes Zacharias Simon Prey Still-Life Painting - Elegant Figures Visiting a Country Dairy
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Johannes Zacharias Simon Prey
Elegant Figures Visiting a Country Dairy

About

This charming scene exemplifies several characteristics of eighteenth century aesthetic thought and represents, as well, a continuation of the European pastoral tradition which has its roots in antiquity. The seeds of Romanticism were beginning to sprout during the period in which this work was painted, and the romantic interest in nature likewise was beginning to flourish. There additionally, especially in France, were the humanitarian ideals which held the belief in the inherent goodness and worth of everyone, even the lowly peasants. But the eighteenth century belief that art should depict nature “purified of accident,” a sort of calm and idealized nature, still held firm. Thus, the very skillful Prey presents in this painting a calm, orderly, almost neat - free from disorder - idyllic nature where the sun shines warmly on green grass and dry earth and leafy trees harbor happy birds and contented cows either stand still for milking or happily sleep or graze. This is not nature “red in tooth and claw.” Nor is this life which is “nasty, brutish, and short.” This is a generously gentle picture of life and nature - even the colors are muted. The light from the setting sun is filtered through clouds so that the shadows cast by the gentry in the foreground are not sharply delineated, and the woman’s dress, basically the color of the earth she is standing on, is a muted pink. The grass is pale green and the leaves on the trees are also soft green with mild yellow overtones. The atmosphere is faintly hushed as the evening fog begins to roll across the land, softening the harsh edges of the farm buildings. The gentry in the foreground are still; they are detached, observing. The boy’s pony is, though harnessed, not attached to anything suggestive of hard work, such as a cart. And the ground the figures stand on is not muddy or scared by the tracks of man or animal. Finally, the land itself is gentle. The painting is set in the level countryside of Holland where Prey lived for most of his adult life. Here there are no craggy mountains to interrupt the gentle and soft atmosphere of the landscape. One is reminded of the pastoral tradition which Marie Antoinette so loved. She had the Petite Trianon built at great expense, and this farm was a stage-setting where she and her noble ladies-in-waiting could frolic and gambol with well-washed, perfumed sheep and goats in imitation of mythic shepherdesses so abundant in classical and Renaissance literature.

Details

  • Artist
    Johannes Zacharias Simon Prey (1744 - 1823, Dutch)
  • Medium
  • Condition
    Excellent
  • Condition Details
    Signed, Lower Left
  • Period
  • Dimensions
    H 19.25 in. x W 28.75 in.H 48.9 cm x W 73.03 cm
  • Gallery Location
    New Orleans, LA
  • Reference Number
    LU56711973413
  • More Editions & Sizes
    Framed Size 24.25" x 31.25"Price: $30,000
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About the Seller

5 / 5
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1stdibs seller since 2017
Located in New Orleans, LA
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