Here we have "Le Berger" by Julien Dupré (1851 - 1910), a French realist painter. He was last seen in these pages here.
While Dupré was better known for his herculean French peasant women pitching hay and for his paintings of country scenes with cattle, he did from time to time turn his attentions to scenes with flocks of sheep.
The image of a shepherd or shepherdess with a flock of sheep and a sheepdog is one of my favorite motifs, and Dupré's "Le Berger" stands out amongst the many I have seen.
(click for bigness)
In the distance we see sandy dunes and lowering skies, while sheep graze calmly in the middle ground. In the forground is the back of the shepherd, with his dog at his side. Overall, the colors are uniformly washed out greens, tans, and greys--except for the shepherd, the dog, and the one black sheep in the flock (who appears to have locked eyes with the dog). The three of them are depicted shades of dark brown and black.
I like how the shepherd and the dog reflect each other. Both are rather scruffy and worn around the edges. You can even see just a bit of a brushy moustache on the shepherd's lip that looks like the dog's coat. They must have been working together as a team for a long time to so resemble each other, don't you think?
This photograph, probably a tintype, was taken in Wales in 1885 by a traveling photographer.
The dear lady, in her traditional Welsh lady's headgear, is clearly fond of pattern in her personal attire.
The spinning wheel is interesting in that the only "fine" part of it is the drive wheel, itself; the rest of the wheel is quite rough-hewn. This makes sense as legs can get broken or wet and rotted, the tension mechanism can become worn, and the spindle mount can wear out. All can be easily replaced by any fairly competent wood-worker. But the drive wheel--the hub, the rim, and the spokes are a very different matter; they require a skilled woodworker to produce. If a move is necessary, all one needs do is bring along the drive wheel and spindle; the rest can be produced on the spot later.
The wool is also interesting. It is clearly mill-produced rolags. See the unspun rolag hanging from her left hand and the ropey bundle on the handle of the tensioner? Those are rolags that could only have been produced by a mill. See my previous entry addressing wool mills here. Although that discussion addresses wool mills in the US, the situation in the UK at the time would have been very similar.