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Paulus Potter, A Landscape with Cows, Sheep and Horses by a Barn

Key facts
Full title A Landscape with Cows, Sheep and Horses by a Barn
Artist Paulus Potter
Artist dates 1625 - 1654
Date made 1651
Medium and support Oil on oak
Dimensions 57.7 × 52.9 cm
Inscription summary Signed; Dated
Acquisition credit Bought, 1871
Inventory number NG849
Location Not on display
Collection Main Collection
Previous owners
A Landscape with Cows, Sheep and Horses by a Barn
Paulus Potter

This scene of rural tranquillity is typical of the work of Paulus Potter, who was famous in his lifetime for his paintings of domestic animals. The hilly terrain and summer light are more reminiscent of Italy than Holland, but these are most definitely Dutch cows. Potter has observed them with great care: look at the way the closest to us closes its eyes while it chews the cud and, just behind, another tenses its body as it urinates.

Other details contribute to a sense of peace and plenty: the cows’ udders are full, ready for evening milking, the hay barn is stacked to the rafters and in the field beyond the corn has been cut and gathered into stooks. The animals, sky and landscape – in harmonious greens, browns and blues – are all touched by the golden glow of the late afternoon sun.

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