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Jan Both, Men with an Ox and Cattle by a Pool

Key facts
Full title Muleteers, and a Herdsman with an Ox and Goats by a Pool
Artist Jan Both
Artist dates about 1615 - 1652
Date made about 1645
Medium and support Oil on oak
Dimensions 57.2 × 69.5 cm
Inscription summary Signed
Acquisition credit Wynn Ellis Bequest, 1876
Inventory number NG957
Location Not on display
Collection Main Collection
Previous owners
Men with an Ox and Cattle by a Pool
Jan Both

Neither the soft, hazy light of this picture nor its mountain path leading up through birch trees is typical of a seventeenth-century Dutch landscape painting. Such a picture would show wide, flat countryside, lit with a cool northern light. This is an imaginary view based on a Dutch artist’s experience of the Mediterranean region, created with sketches and drawings he made while abroad.

The three years that Jan Both spent in Italy in his youth were spent studying the landscape and light of the countryside around Rome – the Campagna. Also living there was the great French landscape artist Claude, whose work had a profound influence on the young Both. When he returned to his native Utrecht, Both continued to paint in the Italianate style, which proved to be highly prized by Dutch collectors.

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