This handsome horse, which would have been an impressive status symbol in seventeenth-century Holland, is presented in a dramatic light. It dwarfs the stable boy. Its forequarters stand out brightly against the dark hillside while its rump is contrasted against the luminous sky; there are no other bright colours to distract our eye. As we can see in the background, it’s also turning the heads of two passers-by – or perhaps they are the owners.
The same horse appears in several other paintings. There are several other versions of this one, including one in the Wallace Collection; another also thought to be by Abraham Pietersz. van Calraet; and one by the much more famous artist Aelbert Cuyp, who like van Calraet worked in Dordrecht. Both this and the Wallace Collection version bear a false Cuyp signature, presumably added later to increase its value.
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