Shepherd and Flock Returning Home

Oil on canvas, signed lower left
Image size: 19 1/2 x 23 1/2 inches (49.5 x 59.5 cm)

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This is a delightful scene depicting a shepherd returning back to the farm after a long day’s work. Coat flung over his shoulder and loyal sheepdog by his side the shepherd is greeted at the door of the farm building by a woman who hands him a tankard. The flock of sheep stand obediently close by in the yard.

As the day approaches it’s close a full spectrum of colours unexpectedly appear and ignite this idyllic picture. Suddenly, vivid purples and oranges reflect off of the livestock’s coats as they gaze upon the welcoming glow that comes from the farmhouse’s interior.

In his work Hall clearly exhibits a sympathy for the Newlyn School’s plein air practice and ideas concerning social realism. However, above all this work takes inspiration from the French impressionists, as shown by Hall’s use of rapid brush strokes to capture the fleetingness of light in this scene.

The Artist

Frederick Hall (6 February 1860 – 21 August 1948), often known as (and signing his work as) Fred Hall, was an English impressionist painter of landscapes, rustic subjects, and portraits who exhibited at the Royal Academy and the Paris Salon, where he was awarded a gold medal in 1912. He was an important member of the Newlyn School, in Cornwall, and is notable for both his series of witty caricatures of his fellow Newlyn artists (including Frank Bramley, Stanhope Forbes, and Norman Garstin) and his artistic development away from the strict realism of the Newlyn School towards impressionism.

Born in Stillington, Yorkshire, Hall studied art at the Lincoln School of Art between 1879 and 1881, before moving on to study under Charles Verlat in Antwerp.

He became a member of the Newlyn School in Cornwall at some time between 1883 and 1885 although the exact date is uncertain. He remained there, joining fellow ex-Lincoln School of Art student Frank Bramley, until 1898. He exhibited at the Royal Academy from 1886 onward, and at the Paris Salon, winning gold there in 1912. He also exhibited at the Royal Society of British Artists on Suffolk Street, London, the Grosvenor Gallery, the New Gallery, and the New English Art Club, but resigned from the latter in 1890.

Hall also drew caricatures and painted works that reflected the public taste for storytelling pictures. In 1898, he married Agnes Beryl Dodd, with whom he had a daughter.

With his family, he later settled in Speen, near Newbury in Berkshire.