Skip to main content

Paulus Potter, Cattle and Sheep in a Stormy Landscape

Key facts
Full title Cattle and Sheep in a Stormy Landscape
Artist Paulus Potter
Artist dates 1625 - 1654
Date made 1647
Medium and support Oil on oak
Dimensions 46.3 × 37.8 cm
Inscription summary Signed; Dated
Acquisition credit Salting Bequest, 1910
Inventory number NG2583
Location Not on display
Collection Main Collection
Previous owners
Cattle and Sheep in a Stormy Landscape
Paulus Potter

A bull stands silhouetted against a threatening sky. It seems energised and alert, aware of the presence of the viewer – it makes direct eye contact with us – and of the storm. A strong wind bends the willow trees and a sheet of rain sweeps across the middle distance. Two cows and a pair of sheep remain calmly feeding or resting – images of fortitude and dependability, watched over by the protective bull. There’s a strong sense of independence here, too: there’s no sign of a herdsman, nor other human interference.

Why would Potter cast cattle as heroes? From an economic point of view, cheese and butter were national staples and key exports at a time when the Dutch Republic was on the verge of becoming a fully independent nation. Cows were a dependable source of prosperity, and Potter may have been intending to convey a symbolic message about national resilience and identity.

Download image
Download low-resolution image

Download a low-resolution copy of this image for personal use.

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.

Download low-resolution image

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

Creative Commons Logo