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Narcisse-Virgilio Diaz de la Peña, Cows at a Pool

Key facts
Full title Cows at a Pool
Artist Narcisse-Virgilio Diaz de la Peña
Artist dates 1807 - 1876
Date made possibly 1870s
Medium and support Oil on wood, probably mahogany
Dimensions 23 × 34.5 cm
Acquisition credit Bequeathed by Hans Velten to the Tate Gallery, 1931; transferred, 1956
Inventory number NG4579
Location Not on display
Collection Main Collection
Cows at a Pool
Narcisse-Virgilio Diaz de la Peña

A group of four cows drink at a pool set in a flat grassy plain. A few trees are dotted on the horizon. The cows form a focal point in the composition, their warm brown and ochre tones creating a contrast with the surrounding landscape. The sky is overcast yet the plain itself is painted in fresh greens. The whole is broadly and swiftly painted, the landscape rendered in long strokes of different greens, often with two separate colours overlaid wet-in-wet. Diaz uses more delicate vertical sweeping strokes of fluid paint to depict the rushes and grasses to the right of the pool.

Painted quickly, this is typical of the kind of sketch he would have dashed off, perhaps for a friend. Although the scene was undoubtedly painted from memory, it is probably based on the flat plains around the village of Barbizon.

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