Skip to main content
Peasants with Cattle fording a Stream
Nicolaes Berchem
/

Many Dutch artists went to live in Italy when they were young and brought their idyllic dreams of a warmer, slower, rural lifestyle home to an enthusiastic Dutch public. Nicolaes Berchem was probably one of them. Dutch cities were growing fast and people were migrating to them from the country in large numbers. Perhaps they wanted memories of home – or an idealised version of the countryside.

The slow, patient cows, painted in warm browns and glowing whites, look out at us with soft eyes. Two women, strong and statuesque, wade through the water. The low sun catches their sturdy calves and strong arms, with touches of brilliant white in long, thick hair, on pushed-up sleeves and on the lowered neck of their dog.

Above all, the picture evokes sound – not just the occasional moo from a cow, but the sudden creak as it moves, the whisk of a tail, the swish of hooves in the gurgling water and the bleat of a sheep or goat.

Key facts
Artist Nicolaes Berchem
Artist dates 1620 - 1683
Full title Peasants with Cattle fording a Stream
Date made about 1670-80
Medium and support Oil on oak
Dimensions 29.5 x 45.3 cm
Inscription summary Signed
Acquisition credit Bequeathed by Lord Colborne, 1854
Inventory number NG240
Location in Gallery Not on display
Download image
Download low-resolution image

Download an 800px wide, 72dpi copy of this image.

License this image

License and download a high resolution image for reproductions up to A3 size from the National Gallery Picture Library.

License image
Download low resolution image

This image is licensed for non-commercial use under a Creative Commons agreement.

Examples of non-commercial use are:

  • Research, private study, or for internal circulation within an educational organisation (such as a school, college or university)
  • Non-profit publications, personal websites, blogs, and social media

The image file is 800 pixels on the longest side.

As a charity, we depend upon the generosity of individuals to ensure the collection continues to engage and inspire. Help keep us free by making a donation today.

Yes, I'd like to donate
Or
Download low resolution image

You must agree to the Creative Commons terms and conditions to download this image.

Creative Commons Logo