Woburn Sheepshearing. Dedicated by Permission to His Grace the Duke of Bedford. By His Grace's most obedient and very humble, George Garrard. George GARRARD.
Woburn Sheepshearing. Dedicated by Permission to His Grace the Duke of Bedford. By His Grace's most obedient and very humble, George Garrard.

Woburn Sheepshearing.
Woburn Sheepshearing. Dedicated by Permission to His Grace the Duke of Bedford. By His Grace's most obedient and very humble, George Garrard.

London: G. Garrard, 31 May 1811.

Original aquatint, stipple, etching and engraving; 540 x 800 mm., mounted and framed.

Sir Joseph Banks judges sheepshearing

A large detailed and striking image of the annual sheep shearing festival held by the Duke of Bedford at Woburn Abbey, with Sir Joseph Banks a resplendent figure in the foreground. This great agricultural show was started by Frances Russell (1763-1802) who established a model farm at Woburn with 'every convenience that could be desired for the breeding of cattle and experiments in farming'. This included valuable experiments upon the respective merits of the various breeds of sheep. The sheep shearing exhibitions lasted for days and the whole English agricultural world was invited to this splendid event; the week concluded with banquets for the Duke's numerous guests staying at Woburn Abbey.

A large detailed and striking image of the annual sheep shearing festival held by the Duke of Bedford at Woburn Abbey, with Sir Joseph Banks a resplendent figure in the foreground. This great agricultural show was started by Frances Russell (1763-1802) who established a model farm at Woburn with 'every convenience that could be desired for the breeding of cattle and experiments in farming'. This included valuable experiments upon the respective merits of the various breeds of sheep. The sheep shearing exhibitions lasted for days and the whole English agricultural world was invited to this splendid event; the week concluded with banquets for the Duke's numerous guests staying at Woburn Abbey.
The scene shows an enormous crowd of noblemen, gentlemen, farmers, and agricultural labourers inspecting the numerous sheep and cattle whilst a shearing contest is taking place in a pen on the right. The contest is being judged by an eminent circle including (as noted in the key): Arthur Young, Secretary to the Board of Agriculture, Sir John Sinclair, President of the Board of Agriculture, Sir Joseph Banks, Thomas Coke M.P., and others including Sir Humphry Davy. Sir Joseph (wearing his Garter sash) is shown in the middle of the judging panel in the lower right side of the image, seated and holding a cane. He was the key figure in developing the merino breed in England and was in charge of the Royal flock of 500 sheep given to King George III by the Spanish Court. He sold off his own sheep on his Oaklands Estate in Lincolnshire in order to devote his resources to the breed, declaring that "merino sheep will in time be procured with carcasses perfectly fashionable and wool as perfectly fine...". His advocacy of the breed had a great effect on their widespread adoption in New South Wales, although he was not himself on good terms with John Macarthur who had been the first to experiment with merino production, starting with the import of three rams and five ewes from the Cape in 1797, thius beginning the Australian merino industry.
The artist of this fine image was George Garrard ARA (1760-1826), a pupil of the Cumbrian sporting artist Sawrey Gilpin. He specialised in depicting the improved breeds of farm animals of the Agricultural Revolution and was instrumental in the passing of a bill to secure copyright on sculptured and cast works of art. The caption states that this fine and large image is " stipple and outline etched by M.N. Bate, figures and landscape by J.C. Stadler, the whole touched and arranged by the original painter".

Price (AUD): $10,500.00  other currencies     Ref: #4504111

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