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Karel Dujardin, Sheep and Goats

Key facts
Full title Sheep and Goats
Artist Karel Dujardin
Artist dates 1626 - 1678
Date made 1673
Medium and support Oil on copper
Dimensions 18 × 20.9 cm
Inscription summary Signed; Dated
Acquisition credit Wynn Ellis Bequest, 1876
Inventory number NG985
Location Not on display
Collection Main Collection
Previous owners
Sheep and Goats
Karel Dujardin

Dujardin’s animals are alive and realistic. They’re softly lit, the white wool of the sheep almost glowing in the evening sun; their solid, rounded forms are echoed in the puffy white clouds overhead. The flesh under the wool appears plump and heavy, and the skilled painting of the wool itself makes the curly texture appear almost tactile.

This painting – small, but charming and detailed – was made late in Karel Dujardin’s life, when he was living in Amsterdam. It seems to show nostalgia for the hills in the Campagna (the countryside around Rome), where he had lived for a while as a young man.

Paintings of landscape and animals were extremely popular in the seventeenth-century Netherlands. For city dwellers, they were a reminder of a way of life that they might have seen as idyllic, and a reminder that part of their nation’s prosperity came from the countryside.

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