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Landscape with Shepherds

Attributed to Swanevelt Herman van

(Woerden c. 1600 - Paris c.1656)

This painting was attributed by critics to Hermann van Swanevelt, a Dutch painter acquainted with Claude Lorrain and Pieter van Laer, who he helped to popularise the classic Italian landscape genre. The work represents a pair of figures, portrayed in the centre of the canvas dominated by imposing Roman ruins, a typical composition for this artist. In his paintings, he habitually placed characters in the centre of the scene, closed on one side by thick vegetation or classical buildings but open on the other with a distant landscape.

Object details

c. 1635
Oil on panel
cm 24 x 25

Salvator Rosa, 9 x 36.7 x  4 cm.


Rome, Borghese Collection, 1833 (Inventario Fidecommissario 1833, p. 28); purchased by the Italian State, 1902.


This painting is documented in the Borghese Collection since 1833, mentioned in the fideicommissum listing as the work of an unknown artist. In 1893, Adolfo Venturi ascribed the work to the Dutch painter Hermann van Swanevelt, an attribution that was accepted, among others, by Giulio Cantalamessa (1912) and Roberto Longhi (1928), but revised by Paola della Pergola who, because of the poor state of conservation of the painting, elected to speak more cautiously of “Swanevelt style.”

The work bears some traits typical of the painter’s production in the 1630s, such as the scene built on a diagonal, which here starts from the right and is broken by the crown of tree at the centre of the composition. The same structure is reproduced in the coeval Landscape with Travellers (Rome, Galleria Doria Pamphilj), produced by the painter around 1633-35 (Russell 2019). Furthermore, the painting reflects the studies carried out by Swanevelt in the Roman countryside, where the “Hermit,” as his colleagues called him, sought out pleasant spots and classical ruins to paint.  

Antonio Iommelli

  • G. Piancastelli, Catalogo dei quadri della Galleria Borghese, in Archivio Galleria Borghese, 1891, p. 454. 
  • A. Venturi, Il Museo e la Galleria Borghese, Roma 1893, p. 121. 
  • J.A. Rusconi, Il Museo e la Galleria Borghese, Bergamo 1906, p. 86. 
  • G. Cantalamessa, Note manoscritte al Catalogo di A. Venturi del 1893, Arch. Gall. Borghese, 1911-1912, n. 197. 
  • R. Longhi, Precisioni nelle Gallerie Italiane, I, La R. Galleria Borghese, Roma 1928, p. 197. 
  • P. della Pergola, La Galleria Borghese. I Dipinti, II, Roma 1959, p. 188, n. 281. 
  • K. Herrmann Fiore, Galleria Borghese Roma scopre un tesoro. Dalla pinacoteca ai depositi un museo che non ha più segreti, San Giuliano Milanese 2006, p. 68. 
  • S. Russell, "His great genois was to make landscapes". The Roman years of Herman van Swanevelt (c. 1603-1655), Roma 2019, p. 90, fig. 48.