Sheep Washing

Sheep Washing
Henry John Boddington
1811-1865
Acquisition Number: 57.118
Medium: Canvas
Size: 18" x 23"
Date: n.d.

It’s time for the shepherds to bathe the herd in the river before shearing. Here, three young men move the sheep one by one into the clear water to remove the dust of the fields. You can almost feel the breeze and smell the rain from the approaching summer storm. H. J. Boddington, the second of six sons of Edward Williams, was born in London. His father was a veteran painter, and all the sons became painters. In order to distinguish himself from the prolific Williams family, Henry took his wife’s maiden name of Boddington. Boddington was fond of river scenes and often painted the Thames and other English waterways. “Sheep Washing” depicts the charm of the English countryside. The scene of pasture, trees, river and sheep is subtly lit with dull sunlight as the summer storm approaches. Many of the works of the English Romantic landscape painters show this diffused lighting, a common sight in a country where the sky is often cloudy. One critic writes of Boddington, “His work, green, pleasant, realistic but uninspired, has always pleased those who do not demand from landscape more than clarity and cheerfulness…” On the other hand, Ruskin admired Boddington for his honesty and love of countryside.