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Aelbert Cuyp, A Landscape with Horseman, Herders and Cattle

Key facts
Full title A Horseman with a Cowherd and Two Boys in a Meadow, and Seven Cows
Artist Aelbert Cuyp
Artist dates 1620 - 1691
Date made probably about 1655-60
Medium and support Oil on canvas
Dimensions 80 × 106 cm
Inscription summary Signed
Acquisition credit Bought, 1871
Inventory number NG822
Location On loan: Masterpieces from the National Gallery, Chimei Museum, Tainan City, Taiwan
Collection Main Collection
Previous owners
A Landscape with Horseman, Herders and Cattle
Aelbert Cuyp

We're looking at a landscape in the Low Countries, probably the flatlands between Nijmegen and Cleves in the eastern part of the Netherlands, which Cuyp had visited in the early 1650s. But the golden light, and that implied heat, is more reminiscent of southern Europe than the north. It was a combination which became fashionable in Holland during the seventeenth century, when Dutch artists who had trained and worked in Italy returned home to ply their trade.

Cuyp never visited Italy but he was influenced by his contemporaries who had, and made this lighting effect a trademark of his paintings. With the warm glow also comes a sense of harmony. Man and beast are living peacefully together, the animals dutifully subservient to their masters. The cowherd and horseman also seem to chat easily, even though one – the man riding the horse – is probably of a significantly higher social status.

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