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Statue of a sleeping shepherd in Stowe landscape gardens

A Grade II Listed Building in Stowe, Buckinghamshire

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Latitude: 52.0363 / 52°2'10"N

Longitude: -1.015 / 1°0'53"W

OS Eastings: 467665

OS Northings: 238004

OS Grid: SP676380

Mapcode National: GBR 9X9.875

Mapcode Global: VHDT2.C28S

Plus Code: 9C4W2XPP+G2

Entry Name: Statue of a sleeping shepherd in Stowe landscape gardens

Listing Date: 21 March 2011

Grade: II

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1242945

English Heritage Legacy ID: 507862

Location: Stowe, Buckinghamshire, MK18

County: Buckinghamshire

Civil Parish: Stowe

Traditional County: Buckinghamshire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Buckinghamshire

Church of England Parish: Stowe

Church of England Diocese: Oxford

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Statue of a sleeping shepherd in Stowe landscape gardens
Garden statue on a pedestal in limestone. Sculptor unknown.

DESCRIPTION: an almost life-size statue of a sleeping shepherd on a low rectangular base, mounted on a high pedestal, which has a stepped and moulded base, with moulded sunk panels to the sides and a deep, moulded cornice. The shepherd is depicted seated on the base of a tree stump, resting his head on his left hand with his elbow propped up on the stump. He is wearing knee breeches, a short coat with a belt and a loose cap. A dog reclines at his left foot and a barrel is hung on the stump.

HISTORY: The statue, one of a pair, the other being that of a sleeping shepherdess dates from the early-mid C18. It seems likely that they can be attributed to the patronage of Viscount Cobham (1675-1749) at Stowe, and formed part of one of the many statuary groups that were assembled here in the first half of the C18. An annotation made prior to 1750 in a copy in the Bodleian Library of the 1748 edition of Benton Seeley's guide to the gardens, 'A Description of the Gardens of Lord Viscount Cobham, at Stowe in Buckinghamshire', describes a circle of statues arranged around a Rotunda in the Western Garden which included a shepherd and 'shepardesse'. At the time the Rotunda and Queen Caroline's Monument were sited close together and the group is probably that mentioned in Daniel Defoe and Samuel Richardson's 'A Tour thro' the Whole Island of Great Britain' (3rd ed. 1742) which, referring to Stowe, states 'Her late Majesty's Effigies is erected on Four Ionick Columns...It is situated on a neat Amphitheatre of Slopes, with Pastoral Figures each way from it'; Referring to Queen Caroline's monument, William Guilpin in 'A Dialogue upon the Gardens of the Right Honourable the Lord Viscount Cobham at Stow in Buckinghamshire' (written in 1748) states 'Her late Majesty is the principal Figure in the Scene, and around her a merry Company of Nymphs and Swains enjoying themselves in the Shade'. It therefore seems likely that this statue, and his partner, were part of this group of Arcadian statuary positioned around Queen Caroline's monument in the Queen's Theatre, at some point between its erection around 1725 and the early 1740s.

Following the removal of the Queen's Theatre feature in the 1750s, the statues seem to have been moved to form part of the group surrounding the Dancing Faun statue which was located in a grassy glade as part of the 'Grecian Valley', originally laid out by Capability Brown (his first known commission) between 1747 and 1749. The Circle of the Dancing Faun remained a feature of the Grecian Valley at least until the early decades of the C19 eventually being included in the large scale sales of statuary that occurred in 1848 and again in 1921-22. It seems probable that the shepherd and shepherdess were relocated to the grounds of the Cobham Arms Hotel (Grade II) in West Street in the mid-C19. In 1975 they were installed in the grounds of Castle House (Grade I), where both statues were listed at Grade II, in 1994. In 2007, following a donation to the National Trust, the statues were moved once again and re-sited in the Grecian Valley in Stowe landscape gardens, part of a Grade I Registered landscape.

Bevington, M, Stowe, The Garden and the Park (1994)
Pevsner, N and Williamson, E, The Buildings of England: Buckinghamshire, 1994, pp.660-87.
Robinson, John Martin, Temples of Delight: Stowe Landscape Gardens (2nd ed. 1994).
Website: Stowe Landscape Gardens (http://faculty.bsc.edu/jtatter/stowe.html) accessed 27 May 2010

REASON FOR DESIGNATION: The statue of a sleeping shepherd in the 'Grecian Valley' at Stowe landscape gardens is listed at Grade II for the following principal reasons:
* Historic Interest: as an example of early-mid C18 decorative garden statuary with an Arcadian theme and illustrative of aspects of C18 English art and garden design, of which Stowe was supremely influential;
* Group Value: as a matching pair with its accompanying statue of a sleeping shepherdess.

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