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Philips Wouwerman, 'Two Vedettes on the Watch by a Stream', 1650s

Key facts
Full title Two Vedettes on the Watch by a Stream
Artist Philips Wouwerman
Artist dates 1619 - 1668
Date made 1650s
Medium and support Oil on oak
Dimensions 31.6 × 35.7 cm
Inscription summary Signed
Acquisition credit Bequeathed by John Henderson, 1879
Inventory number NG1060
Location Not on display
Collection Main Collection
Previous owners
Two Vedettes on the Watch by a Stream
Philips Wouwerman

In the Netherlands in the seventeenth century a vedette was a mounted sentry usually placed near an outpost – here, two of them are on watch by a stream. Wouwerman captures their watchfulness by turning their backs to us, making them look in opposite directions and leaning them forward as if they are peering into the distance. The man in the red jacket is riding one of Wouwerman’s characteristic white horses, though he is a humbler character than the elegant aristocrat the artist usually showed on such a mount.

Time hasn't been kind to the picture and it’s difficult to tell whether the light that catches the white horse is sun or moonlight. But the scene is tranquil enough to allow a couple to lie on the grass and play with their baby at the feet of the vedettes, though the dog beside them is still watchful.

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