About this artwork

Dated 1760, the painting is likely to have been completed shortly after Chalmers's return to his native Edinburgh following his trips to Italy and Minorca in the early to mid-1750s. By the mid-eighteenth century, it was common for the patron or patroness of a painting to pose in the guise of a shepherd or shepherdess. It was a popular alternative for both British and European aristocratic sitters wishing to break from the conventional norms of formal portraiture. In this painting the young shepherdess, with her seemingly individualised facial features, would appear to belong within this new idealising style of portraiture, while other elements of the composition suggest a distinctively Scottish and literary frame of reference.

  • title: A Shepherdess Spied upon in a Landscape
  • accession number: NG 2493
  • artist: Sir George ChalmersScottish (about 1720 - 1791)
  • gallery: On Loan
  • object type: Painting
  • medium: Oil on canvas
  • date created: Dated 1760
  • measurements: 127.00 x 101.50 cm (framed: 140.50 x 115.20 x 6.20 cm)
  • credit line: Purchased 1989
  • photographer: Antonia Reeve

Sir George Chalmers

Sir George Chalmers

Chalmers was born in Edinburgh, the son of a herald painter to the Lyon court. He worked as a heraldic painter and engraver, which influenced the linear quality of his work, as well as studying with Allan Ramsay. After spending time in Florence and Minorca in 1751, due to his Jacobite sympathies, Chalmers returned to Edinburgh around 1760. He became a successful portrait painter, producing his best works in the 1770s. Chalmers later lived in Hull before moving to London in 1784, where he spent the last years of his life.