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Karel Dujardin, A Woman and a Boy with Animals at a Ford

Key facts
Full title A Woman and a Boy with Animals at a Ford
Artist Karel Dujardin
Artist dates 1626 - 1678
Date made 1657
Medium and support Oil on canvas
Dimensions 37.7 × 43.5 cm
Inscription summary Signed; Dated
Acquisition credit Bought, 1871
Inventory number NG827
Location Room 19
Collection Main Collection
Previous owners
A Woman and a Boy with Animals at a Ford
Karel Dujardin

In the shade of a rocky cliff, a woman and a child wade in the shallow water of a ford. She looks down at the little boy as he takes a pee in the river. Images of small nude boys relieving themselves were unremarkable in the seventeenth century, although the boys were usually two or three years old, and this child appears a little older.

Dujardin’s picture has a pastoral theme – that is, shows an idyllic rural world. This was much appreciated and sought after by Dutch collectors, bringing idealised images of country life into their busy, crowded city lives. The cliffs behind are rocky and inhospitable but the water is cool and refreshing – the dusty path behind the group is already forgotten. Dujardin shows a charming, gently funny moment in rural life.

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