The Fruit Picker and The Gardener by John Cheere (1709–1787)

The Fruit Picker and The Gardener by John Cheere (1709–1787)

Circa 1755
Stock Number: 13423-4/GSO
Height 124.50cm [49.02 inches]

A pair of lead garden figures, circa 1755.

This pairing of figures is often known as the ‘Shepherd and Shepherdess’, however, Cheere is known to have adapted models and by giving them different attributes changed the subject matter to suit the fashion of the day and clients’ requirements.

Here we have the female model of a ‘Fruit Picker’ (not I believe a Shepherdess) and a male model of a ‘Shepherd' or 'Gardener’. Similar examples can be seen at Kew in the Temperate House, in Gertrude Jekyll’s book on Garden Ornament at Tyninghame House, Haddingtonshire (now East Lothian). Similarly, John Davis’ book on Garden Ornament shows a pair of figures from the stock of Mallets, and in Lawrence Weaver’s ‘English Leadwork: Its Art and History’ we see the figure of the Shepherd but with a garden hoe. It is though the ‘Shepherdess’, formerly in the Rose Garden at Anglesey Abbey, that offers a comparable female figure, albeit with a change in the angle of her resting arm and the other supporting a crook; however, most importantly, she does not have the bulging basket of fruit. The Anglesey model is I believe the true Shepherdess model, though of course by replacing the crook with a rake, she, and indeed he, would become ‘Haymakers’, as recorded being delivered to Blair Castle in 1755.

The figures are both finely cast and would most likely have been previously ‘painted in the proper coulers’. They each display fine attention to detail, as can be seen in the stitching in the clothes and button holes, denotation of decoration to the stockings and a delicate brooch on the Gardener's jacket. The hair also has atypical fine punched finish, as exampled in the Harlequin and Columbine figures now reinstated at Wrest Park.

Please note figures shown prior to facture of a Fruit and Crook.

Mounted on a large square stone block.

Provenance: A Private Gloucestershire Estate from 1900.

Height: The Fruit Picker 4ft 1”/ 124.5 cm
Height: The Gardener 4ft ½” / 123 cm