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Philips Wouwerman, Cavalry making a Sortie from a Fort on a Hill

Key facts
Full title Cavalry making a Sortie from a Fort on a Hill
Artist Philips Wouwerman
Artist dates 1619 - 1668
Date made 1646
Medium and support Oil on canvas
Dimensions 139 × 190.5 cm
Inscription summary Signed; Dated
Acquisition credit Bought, 1956
Inventory number NG6263
Location Not on display
Collection Main Collection
Cavalry making a Sortie from a Fort on a Hill
Philips Wouwerman

Philips Wouwerman has captured the violence and cruelty of battle as it was in seventeenth-century Europe, when Holland was closely involved in the wars that raged across the continent. Most of the scene is in shadow, with details picked out in one or two flashes of colour: a horse’s rump, a red jacket, a helmet, a fallen battle flag. The cold, brilliant light is more like cannon fire than sunlight.

This picture is one of the largest battle paintings that Wouwerman ever made and is one of his few dated works. The scene and its buildings, flags and uniforms are entirely imaginary. The realism comes from the dramatic composition and eerie lighting, the depiction of bodies and faces, and, perhaps above all, the portrayal of the horses, for which he was famous.

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