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Adriaen van de Velde, A Farm with a Dead Tree

Key facts
Full title A Farm with a Dead Tree
Artist Adriaen van de Velde
Artist dates 1636 - 1672
Date made 1658
Medium and support Oil on canvas
Dimensions 54.2 × 62.5 cm
Inscription summary Signed; Dated
Acquisition credit Bought, 1871
Inventory number NG867
Location Room 19
Collection Main Collection
Previous owners
A Farm with a Dead Tree
Adriaen van de Velde

Like many of Adriaen van de Velde’s paintings, this is a quiet picture. The conversation between the milkmaid and the man with the basket seems amicable, with nothing to disturb the rhythmic swish of the milk into the pail. A pig hauls itself up on its haunches, looking as if it will roll over and snooze again in the spring sunshine. The skeleton of the dead oak tree stands out starkly against the sky, but the clouds are soft and fluffy, moving slowly.

Van de Velde painted the picture when he was only 22 years old and it shows remarkable maturity. The three distinct groups of animals and figures, each a satisfying vignette on its own, are bound together by the wide, warm pool of sunlight. The brilliant blue of the milkmaid’s skirt enlivens the mellow browns, creams and greys of the foreground and harmonises with the blue of the sky.

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