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Landscape with Shepherds and Horsemen

Swanevelt Herman van

(Woerden c. 1600 - Paris c.1656)

Critics have attributed the painting to Hermann van Swanevelt from his time in Rome. The Dutch painter made contact with Claude Lorrain and Pieter van Laer, with whom he helped to spread the genre of the classic Italian landscape. The work shows a man sitting on his donkey, listening to the words of a shepherd, behind whom is a ruined building. The scene is set in a pleasant landscape, characterised by lush vegetation that, on the left, provides a glimpse of some hills in the distance.

Object details

1635 circa
oil on panel
cm 12 x 15

19th century frame (element of a polyptych), 81 x 26 x 4.3 cm.


Rome, Borghese Collection, 1693 (Inv. 1693, room XI, no. 21; Della Pegola 1959); Inv. 1790, room VII, no. 123; Inventario Fidecommissario 1833, p. 31; purchased by the Italian State, 1902.

Conservation and Diagnostic
  • 1907 Luigi Bartolucci (disinfestazione).


This painting has been documented in the Borghese Collection since 1693, listed in the inventory as a “painting on panel with a Donkey and antiquities at no. 155. Unknown,” a lack of attribution revised in 1790 in favour of Ludovico Mattioli, a name rejected by the compiler of the fideicommissum listing (1833), as well as by Giovanni Piacastelli (1893), and changed to Hermann van Swanevelt by Adolfo Venturi, an opinion that was endorsed by both Roberto Longhi (1928) and Paola della Pergola, who in 1959 published the painting with the annotation “manner of Swanevelt.”

This panel is a typical example of a genre that was very popular in Rome, both on the market, and among the aristocracy and the middle classes: landscapes depicting shepherds and wayfarers surrounded by the Roman countryside. One of the most famous artists of the time was Hermann van Swanevelt, a Dutch painter who arrived in Rome in the late 1620s and was immensely successful. In fact, the artist known as “the Hermit” often painted scenes such as this, inspired by his studies en plein air as he wandered alone through the outskirts of Rome in search of ancient ruins or peaceful spots to paint.

Antonio Iommelli

  • G. Piancastelli, Catalogo dei quadri della Galleria Borghese, in Archivio Galleria Borghese, 1891, p. 458; 
  • A. Venturi, Il Museo e la Galleria Borghese, Roma 1893, p. 222; 
  • J.A. Rusconi, Il Museo e la Galleria Borghese, Bergamo 1906, p. 91; 
  • R. Longhi, Precisioni nelle Gallerie Italiane, I, La R. Galleria Borghese, Roma 1928, p. 223; 
  • P. della Pergola, La Galleria Borghese. I Dipinti, II, Roma 1959, pp. 188-189, n. 282; 
  • P. della Pergola, L’Inventario Borghese del 1693 (III), in “Arte Antica e Moderna”, XXX, 1965, p. 214; 
  • 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. 153.