Antwerp, 1755 – Antwerp, 1826
Study of a sleeping shepherd
Black chalk on gray paper.
194 x 194 mm – 7 5/8 x 7 5/8 in.
Signed lower right: by Ommeganck
Inscribed in pencil on the mount: Study for the character to the right of the landscape painting by Ommeganck reproduced and described in “the history of the painters of all the schools of Charles BLANC, ec. Flemish 1878.
Born in Antwerp in 1755, Balthasar-Paul Ommeganck served his apprenticeship with the painter Henri Joseph Antonissen, who gave him his taste for landscapes. In 1788, he created with Hendrik de Cort the artistic society, Kunstmaatschappij, in order to promote local talents through exhibitions. Rewarded several times at the Salon de Peinture in Paris, in 1799 he obtained the first prize for landscape thanks to a work painted on a piano. A painter renowned for the softness of his landscapes and the charm of the animals that embellished them, he was nicknamed “The Root of the Sheep”.
This charming drawing is a preparatory study for the sleeping shepherd, on the right, under a tree, in the painting Shepherd and his herd at sunset (fig. 1) by Ommeganck, of which several versions are known.s. Charles Blanc, in his work History of painters of all schools. Flamish School, reproduces an engraving of this painting and comments on it: “Our artist was very fond of the hours preceding or following the extreme heat of the day; the blazing brilliance of the sun at its zenith frightened and discouraged him […] One of the engravings that accompanies this delivery reproduces a painting in which the artist has perfectly expressed the languor of a hot afternoon. The sun is leaning towards the horizon, but the freshness of the evening is not felt. The rays of the mighty star illuminate the clouds it has formed itself and gild a lonely countryside. Overwhelmed by the weight of the day, a shepherd has fallen asleep on the grass, behind a clump of elegant trees that protect him like a curtain. His quiet sleep is a pleasure to see…”
It was in the vicinity of Dinan, Huy and Chaudfontaine that the Antwerp landscape painter liked to draw studies from nature which he then used to create his paintings. We can compare our drawing to a Study of a Man Lying on His Side (fig. 2) from an album of eight pencil sketches of figures kept in the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam (inv. RP-T-1986).
Condition report – Small stains that do not interfere with the readability of the work.
 Characteristic and atmospheric painting by the artist, famous for his finely executed and sunny compositions, which mainly show shepherds with their live animals in idyllic landscapes. Several versions of this landscape by Balthasar-Paul Ommeganck have appeared on the market: Sleeping Shepherd and His Flock, Oil on canvas, 39.2 x 51 cm, Vanderkindere, Brussels, 15/09/2015, n° 20; Shepherd and his herd at sunset, Oil on canvas, 37 x 49 cm, Vanderkindere, Brussels, 09/09/2014, n° 105; Landscape with shepherd and his flock, Oil on panel, 39.7 x 49.5 cm, Christie’s, London, 26/09/2003, n° 160.
 Paris, 1868, p. 4-5.