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Constant Troyon

(French, 1810–1865)

Le retour à la ferme (Return to the Farm)

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Object Details

Artist

Constant Troyon

Date

1859

Medium

Oil on canvas

Dimensions

Image: 51 1/4 x 39 1/2 inches (130.2 x 100.3 cm)

Credit Line

Gift of the Estate of Eugenie G. Walker

Object
Number

56.243

This painting, which has not been on view for many years, was beautifully conserved by the Williamst(…)

This painting, which has not been on view for many years, was beautifully conserved by the Williamstown Art Conservation Center in 2017. It can now be newly appreciated as a splendid example of Troyon’s animal paintings, replete with a low horizon line, a brilliantly blue cloud-filled sky, and virtuoso handling of the landscape elements. From the late 1840s, Troyon focused his efforts almost exclusively on this genre largely inspired by the work of seventeenth-century Dutch painters Aelbert Cuyp and Paulus Potter. The white cow in the immediate center foreground pauses on the dirt path home, head slightly turned, seemingly to “pose” for her portrait.

Formerly in the collection of businessman Charles Crocker, cofounder of the Central Pacific Railroad, this painting broke two American auction records: the first in 1896 ($24,500) and again in 1907 ($65,000). With the rise of modernism, Troyon’s work fell out of fashion and never reached such lofty financial heights again.

(“Highlights from the Collection: 45 Years at the Johnson,” curated by Stephanie Wiles and presented at the Johnson Museum January 27–July 22, 2018)

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