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Pieter Verbeeck, 'A White Horse standing by a Sleeping Man', about 1652

Key facts
Full title A White Horse standing by a Sleeping Man
Artist Pieter Verbeeck
Artist dates probably about 1610/15? - 1652/4
Date made about 1652
Medium and support Oil on oak
Dimensions 31.8 × 27 cm
Inscription summary Signed
Acquisition credit Wynn Ellis Bequest, 1876
Inventory number NG1009
Location Not on display
Collection Main Collection
Previous owners
A White Horse standing by a Sleeping Man
Pieter Verbeeck

In this strange little picture, Pieter Verbeeck appears to be telling us a story, though it’s impossible to say what it is. A man, apparently a vagrant, sleeps under a tree with his dog. A patient horse waits for them, its rein hanging down loose close to the man’s hand. Another man appears over the breast of the hill and seems to eye the group. He has a couple of scruffy dogs with him and carries a club over his shoulder.

Although the green of some of the leaves has turned blue with age, the other colours in the painting appear remarkably fresh. Verbeeck was influenced by the work of Paulus Potter and Isack van Ostade, as well as by Dutch landscape painters known as the Italianates. He, like them, painted pictures full of soft, warm Mediterranean colours that proved popular with collectors.

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