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Joseph Farquharson (1846-1935) was a Scottish landscape painter whose evocative winter rural images are perhaps best known from Christmas cards. His many depictions of cattle and sheep in snow earned him the nickname ‘Frozen Mutton Farquharson’ and, to be honest, as I headed out recently he was the last thing on my mind!

Thick fog lay heavy in the valley, reducing my world to a circle of a few metres before blurring and disappearing altogether. The air, still and breathless, muffled the splintering of grass underfoot as indistinct rounded shadows slowly ghosted into sheep shape and dark ovals in the grass marked where they had lain before silently moving away to maintain a cautious distance and wary eye. Farquharson style image of sheep in a frosty field and sunrise through the fogAlmost imperceptibly the eastern sky began to flush a burnt orange as the sun crept into view. A blank, featureless disk, it slid through the trees and on upwards, bleaching all colour from the sky; as far as I was concerned it was still a perfect day but those few fleeting moments were magical – and worth missing breakfast for!

(All images are copyright to Noeline Smith)

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