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Philips Wouwerman, Cavalrymen halted at a Sutler's Booth

Key facts
Full title Cavalrymen halted at a Sutler's Booth
Artist Philips Wouwerman
Artist dates 1619 - 1668
Date made probably 1650s
Medium and support Oil on oak
Dimensions 51.5 × 41.7 cm
Inscription summary Signed
Acquisition credit Bought with the Peel Collection, 1871
Inventory number NG878
Location Not on display
Collection Main Collection
Previous owners
Cavalrymen halted at a Sutler's Booth
Philips Wouwerman

A large tent or booth has been set up on top of a hill above a military camp, next to a blasted tree. They stand upright against a big, luminous sky, together filling nearly half the picture.

Dramatic though this backdrop is, it’s the cavalrymen gathered in the foreground whose antics are the main entertainment for the viewer. They have been attracted up from the camp by the tent, which has been pitched by a ’sutler', a man – or very often a woman – who made their living by following an army on the march and selling drink and other provisions to the troops.

Inevitably, it was a popular place for off-duty soldiers to relax and enjoy themselves. Here, a cavalryman raises his empty tankard, the officer in the centre attempts a seduction and a third horseman celebrates his own arrival with a blast on his bugle.

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