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Philips Wouwermans: 'Two Vedettes on the Watch by a Stream'

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Vedettes are mounted sentries who were usually placed near an outpost. Here, they are on watch by a stream with a dog, and occupy a relatively tranquil sunlit landscape that is comparable with the early Italianate landscapes produced in Haarlem by Jan Wijnants and Nicolaes Berchem. The two halves of the composition are linked by the vedette on the white horse in the left foreground. The clouds gathering in the sky provide a central focus.

The painting is relatively early, probably not much later than the National Gallery's battle scene, 'Cavalry making a Sortie', painted in 1646, which is one of the largest such canvases by Wouwermans and one of his few dated works. From paintings of battles, which were more common in Italy than elsewhere in Europe in the 17th century, Wouwermans seems to have moved towards painting more peaceful scenes with soldiers and horsemen.

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