An Italianate landscape with peasants and cattle in a meadow beneath a cliff, a town in the distance indistinctly signed 'cuy..' (lower centre) oil on panel, octagonal 8 x 91/2 in. (20.2 x 24 cm.) PROVENANCE (Possibly) Jacob Houcke; sale, Leiden, 1669 (recorded by Hofstede de Groot, loc. cit., on the basis of a note by Abraham Bredius). Captain William Baillie (1723-1810), by 1774, when engraved by Pye. J.-B.P. Lebrun; sale, Remy, Paris, 22 September 1774, lot 82, 'un homme, une femme tenant chacun une houlette... grav‚ par J. Pye' (sold 340 livres ). Armand-Fr‚d‚ric-Ernest Nogaret, tr‚sorier g‚n‚ral des maisons et finances to the Comte d'Artois; sale, Lebrun, Paris, 18 March 1782, lot 64 (120 livres to the dealer Vincent Donjeux). Charles-Alexandre de Calonne (1734-1802); sale, Lebrun, Paris, 21 April 1788, lot 35 (360 francs to Desmarch). General Sir James Henry Craig (1748-1812), by whom bequeathed to Lord Harrington, by whom offered in General Craig's name; Christie's, London, 18 April 1812, lot 48, 'A small summer evening Scene with Peasants and Cows, octagon' (49 gns. to Seguier for Watson Taylor). George Watson Taylor, M.P., Erlestoke Park, nr. Devizes, Wiltshire; Christie's, London, 13 June 1823, lot 31, 'A Peasant with Four Cows, Two of them lying down, and a Shepherd and Shepherdess with Sheep under a Rock, with a distant, warm, and glowing Landscape; Evening Scene. Small Octagon' (unsold); subsequently re-offered for sale, Henry J. and George Henry Robins, on the premises at Erlestoke, 23 July 1832 [=fourteenth day], lot 65, 'Cattle and Figures, a small cabinet picture, a gem and art, in the most perfect state of preservation This admired specimen was purchased in Holland, by the renowned connoisseur, Captain William Baillie, who formed the Bute collection, and that of the first Earl of Liverpool. His judgment of the works of the Flemish and Dutch school, stamped a sterling value on every picture which he highly appreciated; this was one, and graced his own select cabinet' (128 gns. to Clarke). Richard Sanderson, by 1834; Christie's, London, 17 June 1848, lot 5 (112 gns. to Seguier). With Bourgeois, Paris. Baron Albert Oppenheim, Cologne, by 1904; sale, Berlin, 19 March 1918 (moved from 27 October 1914), lot 8 (sold 35,200 marks). With Karl Haberstock, Berlin, circa 1924. Anonymous Sale [possibly the property of R. Semmel, Berlin]; Frederik Muller & Cie, Amsterdam, 1933, lot 9. B. de Geus van den Heuvel, Nieuwersluis, by 1952; Mak van Waay, Amsterdam, 26 April 1976, lot 11 (to the anonymous vendor, below). Anonymous Sale; Sotheby's, London, 2 July 1986, lot 153 (to Dreesmann). Dr Anton C.R. Dreesmann (inventory no. A-62). ENGRAVED John Pye, 1774, 'From a picture by Cuyp in the possession of William Baillie, Esq.', published by Boydell, loc. cit.. LITERATURE J. Boydell, A collection of prints, 4, London, 1779, pl. 52. J. Smith, A Catalogue Raisonn‚, etc., V, London, 1834, p. 318, no. 122, 'A fine sunny evening'. E. Molinier, Collection du Baron Albert Oppenheim, Paris, 1904, no. 7, pl. 6, repr. Dordrecht/Leeuwarden, 1988, p. 153, fig. 113. C. Hofstede de Groot, A Catalogue Raisonn‚, etc., II, London, 1908, no. 198, 'a fine sunny evening. The picture is golden in tone'. S. Reiss, Aelbert Cuyp, London, 1975, no. 74. EXHIBITION London, British Institution, 1819, no. 104. Amsterdam, Kunsthandel W. Paech, Oude Meesters, 1936-7, no. 15. Schiedam, Stedelijk Museum, Schilderijen uit de verzameling B. de Geus van den Heuvel, 1952-3, no. 13. Arnhem, Gemeente Museum, Collection B. de Geus van den Heuvel, 1960-1, no. 11, fig. 50. Haarlem, Frans Halsmuseum, De Landman en de Muze, 1965, no. 13. NOTES We are very grateful to Dr. Alan Chong for confirming the attribution, and for his assistance with cataloguing this lot; Dr. Chong dates the picture to circa 1646-8 and also notes that the composition is very similar to no. 79 in his forthcoming catalogue raisonn‚ of the artist's works. Such a dating would place this work towards the beginning of the artist's maturity. It was in around 1645 that Cuyp became influenced by the light and compositions of Dutch Italianate landscape painters, especially Jan Both and, to a lesser degree, Saftleven and Herman van Swanevelt. Cuyp's first Italianate landscapes are cast with a smoky orange sunlight, with shepherds and their flocks occupying a prominent place in the composition, for example the Two Herdsmen and Cattle in a Wide Landscape (London, Dulwich Picture Gallery), which shows a brilliant sun contre-jour over a misty landscape. The treeless, rocky plains of this period resemble the work of Jan Asselijn and Nicolaes Berchem. Such scenes were succeeded by circa 1650 by very simple landscapes consisting almost wholly of herds of cattle, placed by river banks (for example those in the National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C., and in the National Gallery, Budapest). This picture passed through the ownership of the Irish printmaker and picture dealer, Captain William Baillie. As noted in the catalogue of the Erlestoke sale, loc. cit., perhaps Baillie's greatest achievement was his position as agent for John, 3rd Earl of Bute (1713-1792), in which role he holds a distinguished position in the collecting history of Cuyp's works. Bute, assisted by Baillie, built up one of the great collections of the eighteenth-century; particularly notable was his exceptional group of works by Cuyp, including most importantly the River landscape with a horseman and peasants in the National Gallery, London. That work, arguably the greatest of all Cuyp's landscapes, was purchased by Baillie in the United Provinces in about 1760; according to Benjamin West, its acquisition caused the rage for landscapes by Cuyp among British collectors. On 18 May 1818, Joseph Farington wrote in his diary: 'I went to the British Institution and there met Mr. West and I went round the exhibition with him examining all the pictures. While looking at Lord Bute's picture by Cuyp, he said that picture was brought to England by the late Captn. Baillie, and was the first picture by that master known in England. Having been seen pictures by Cuyp were eagerly sought for and many were introduced and sold to advantage'. General Craig was a prominent military figure who had at one time been the governor-in-chief of British North America. He died in January 1812, and having had no children, he willed his estate to various people who had assisted him in his youth, particularly Lord Harrington and his brother, Colonel Stanhope. The former was given the collection of paintings and it was he who consigned them to Christie's for sale that year. Nothing is known about where or when Craig acquired his collection, but the prices indicate that the individual paintings were of more than average interest - very few lots were bought in, the highest figure realized was 151 gns. paid by the dealer John Smith for a landscape by Salvator Rosa, and the dealer Philip Hill paid 131 gns. for a Landscape with Orpheus and Eurydice by Poussin (both untraced). George Watson Taylor was one of the foremost collectors in England in the early nineteenth century, whose collection of old master paintings and ancien r‚gime furniture was rivalled only by those of King George IV and the 10th Duke of Hamilton. Watson Taylor was the son of a West Indian planter, and was initially of relatively modest means but in 1810 married Anna Taylor, the daughter of a much wealthier planter who eventually inherited not only her father's but also her brother's vast fortunes. Watson-Taylor - advised by William Seguier, the first director of the National Gallery in London - amassed his collection in a remarkably short time, dividing it equally between his London house in Cavendish Square and Erlestoke Park, his country seat. By the early 1820s he had suffered a decline in his fortunes, probably as a result of a depressed sugar market and possibly also legislative restrictions on the slave trade. In 1823 his library was sold and shortly afterwards part of his picture collection was sold at Christie's; in 1825 Christie's also sold the furniture from Cavendish Square, a sale at which King George IV was a major purchaser. In 1832 Watson Taylor's fall became complete and he was declared bankrupt with debts of some œ450,000. His downfall was swiftly followed by the sale of the magnificent contents of Erlestoke Park by George Robins, comprising some 3,572 lots in twenty-one sessions. The picture collection included such works as Parmigianino's Madonna and Child with Saint John the Baptist and Saint Jerome, bought for the fledgling National Gallery in London, where it remains, Elsheimer's Tobias and the Angel, Teniers' series of The Four Seasons, Hogarth's The Shrimp Girl and Emanuel de Witte's Adriana van Heusden and her daughter at the New Fishmarket in Amsterdam (all National Gallery, London). The quality of the furniture in these sales is similarly remarkable, comprising many of the masterpieces now in the British Royal Collection - including Riesener's jewel cabinet made in 1780 for the comtesse de Provence and the lacquer secretaire and commode supplied by Riesener to Marie Antoinette for her cabinet at Versailles - as well as pieces that were acquired for the Hamilton collection.