The grassy knoll on which a young shepherdess and her flock are relaxing is seen in shadow; the distant hill is sunlit. This idyllic scene was drawn by Homer in the summer of 1878 during a visit to Houghton Farm, the home of Lawson Valentine, a business partner of the artist’s older brother, Charles Savage Homer.1 The farm was located in Mountainville, not far from the Hudson River in southeastern New York.
Homer used the same model and setting for several other watercolors done at Houghton Farm. One entitled simply Shepherdess,2 formerly in the collection of Mrs. Lawson Valentine, is particularly close to the Clark drawing. There is some confusion about the identity of Homer’s model for this and for related drawings. Goodrich3 calls her “a girl in her early ’teens, the daughter of a poor ‘mountaineer’ . . . ” Beam4 has suggested that Homer’s model here was actually a boy dressed as a shepherdess, although his arguments for this identification are not entirely convincing.
1. Lloyd Goodrich, Winslow Homer (1944), p. 62.
2. Exhibited New York, The Metropolitan Museum, Winslow Homer Memorial Exhibition, 1911, no. 26.
3. Goodrich, Winslow Homer (1944), p. 62.
4. Philip Beam, Winslow Homer (Unpublished Dissertation, 1944), p. 159.
—Egbert Haverkamp-Begemann, Standish D. Lawder, and Charles W. Talbot, Jr., Drawings from the Clark Art Institute, 2 vols. (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1964), 1:139, no. 336.