William James Müller, Cows in Miniature - Mid-19th-century watercolour painting


An original mid-19th-century watercolour painting, William James Müller Wading Cows Miniature.

A peaceful pastoral evening scene of a group of cows wading and drinking in a river, set against an idyllic farm landscape with a thatched-roof barn in the background. The painting's delicate colouring captures the light's ethereal glow at sundown.

William James Müller (1812 – 1845) (his surname was also spelt Muller) was the best-known landscape painter of the Bristol School. The son of a Prussian who had emigrated from Danzig and became the director of the Bristol Museum, Müller's landscape style was strongly influenced by his study of such masters as Claude and Ruysdael. Müller exhibited regularly at the Royal Academy, and was very widely travelled in Greece and Egypt (where he was commissioned to execute a number of studies of architectural subjects), as well as in France, Switzerland and Italy. With its thickly wooded background, our painting is possibly of a river in Gloucestershire or Wales, where Müller did much of his best work. Following Müller’s death his work was in great demand: through the bequest of John Henderson, many of his sketches are now housed in the British Museum.

Unsigned. Inscribed on separate accompanying backing card: 'William James Müller, 1812-1845'.  
There is a small, barely visible repaired tear to the edge of the paper, lower left. On the verso there are small glue and paper remnants around the periphery, due to previous mounting.
8.8cm x 12.5cm.

This work forms part of a fascinating collection (largely of equestrian pictures) which we have for sale, connected with two highly regarded horse painters: Charles Loraine-Smith (1751-1835), a keen horseman known for his early hunting and sporting scenes, and Charles Cooper Henderson (1803-1877), the pre-eminent painter of Victorian horses and coaches.  

Charles Cooper Henderson was brother of the distinguished art collector John Henderson, who was an avid collector of Müller’s works. This family connection would help explain how this painting by Müller came to be in the collection alongside the equestrian pictures of Cooper Henderson.

This collection also includes horse pictures by other notable names, such as Jules Léon Montigny, Henry Thomas Alken, Anthony Devis and Frank L. Emanuel. And there are studies after George Stubbs, James Pollard and Leonardo da Vinci. The story of why these equestrian pictures have come together is a mystery, but it is possible that the collection was at one time owned by Charles Cooper Henderson. Together, these pictures, spanning the late 18th into the early 19th century, show the ever-increasing British obsession with all things equine.

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Product code: JH-999

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