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Jozef Israëls (Dutch, 1824–1911), The Shepherd’s Prayer, oil on canvas, 1864. 35 3/8 x 49 1/4 in. Gift of Edward Drummond Libbey, 1914.116. Gallery 33
In this serene image, a shepherd lowers his head in prayerful gratitude for the meal he is about to eat as a woman, probably his wife, pours coffee. Their dog calmly sits guarding the scene. Even the sheep in pasture are quietly resting as if to maintain the calm silence so the shepherd’s prayer is not interrupted. The preference for the simple, wholesome way of country life over the hustle and bustle of the modern city was a theme that Israëls and his contemporaries expressed frequently.
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