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Skirmish among Enemy Troops
Wouwerman, Philips
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Wouwerman, Philips

Haarlem, 1619 - Haarlem, 1668

See author's file

Skirmish among Enemy Troops

1648 - 1649. Oil on canvas.
Not on display

The structure of the composition is based on parallel planes, although their arrangement lacks spatial depth. The horizon line is high. The main action unfolds in the foreground. The figures are large and their proximity enables the viewer to appreciate in detail the precise expression of emotions in the men and beasts that seem to be entangled in a frenzied disorder - which is, however, only apparent, as despite the seemingly natural positioning of the figures, the groupings stem from studied contrasting rhythms. Thus, the brown horse in the foreground has its exact counterpoint in the one in the middle ground, which a soldier grasps by the reins. The figures of men and animals are soundly modelled using precise, unloaded brushwork that becomes more impasto in the highlights. The white of the fallen hose in the immediate foreground provides a source of light and also a counterpoint to the brown and yellow tones in which the scene is painted, except for small dashes of red. These colours are not in keeping with the tradition of the Haarlem painters and reveal the influence of Caravaggism, which found its way into Haarlem through the work of Pieter van Laer, il Bamboccio (1599-after 1642). However, the arrangement of the space into three independent planes of colour is alien to Van Laer. This scene should therefore be dated to around 1648-49, the period of transition towards the personal, more sophisticated style developed by Wouwerman after shunning the naturalism of Van Laer.

Philips Wouwerman`s battle scenes are stylistically and iconographically consistent with the tradition of the Haarlem school. Indeed, the artist shows himself to be a follower of Esaias van de Velde (1587-1630), himself greatly influenced by David Vinckboons (1576-1632), who popularised the genre imported into Dutch painting by the Flemish artists Sebastian Vrancx (1573-1647) and Pieter Snayers (1592-1666). They established some of the pictorial devices employed by Van de Velde and repeated by Wouwerman, such as the white horse in the centre of the composition, the foreshortening of the fallen bodies and the fleeing soldiers. However, the manner in which the figures are grouped, the folk types and, above all, the horse model (with fat belly, curved neck, small head and powerful hooves) are taken from Pieter van Laer.

The scene depicts a skirmish between European and Oriental cavalry troops. As is usual in Wouwerman`s paintings, despite the detailed rendering of arms and uniforms and even the standard, it is a fictitious battle set in an indeterminate period and place. For example, among the Christian soldiers are musketeers without breastplates wearing characteristic helmets and others attired in the broad hats that came to replace the helmet over time. The arms depicted are all blade weapons: spears, javelins and swords. The sword wielded by the Oriental horseman to ward off the soldier attacking him with a spear is the so-called Walloon sword which was used in northern Europe in the seventeenth century.

Throughout the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries Wouwerman was hailed as the finest painter of battle scenes, then one of the most coveted genres among collectors. Philip V came to own at least nine of his battle paintings (Posada Kubissa, T.: Pintura holandesa en el Museo Nacional del Prado. Catálogo razonado, 2009, pp. 318-319).


Technical data

Related artworks

Museo del Prado, vista de una de las salas
Albumen on photographic paper, 1915 - 1930
Roig Villalonga, Juana
Inventory number
Wouwerman, Philips
Skirmish among Enemy Troops
1648 - 1649
Height: 69.7 cm; Width: 71.5 cm
Royal Collection (colección Felipe V, Palacio de La Granja de San Ildefonso, Segovia, 1727; col. Felipe V, La Granja, pieza donde se dice misa, 1746, nº 134; Palacio de Aranjuez, Madrid, pieza en que el rey duerme la siesta, 1794, nº 134; Palacio Real, Madrid, secretaría de Hacienda, 1814-1818, nº 134).

Bibliography +

Hofstede de Groot, C. (Cornelis) (1863-1930), A catalogue raisonné of the works of the most eminent dutch..., II, Macmillan and Co, Londres, 1908, pp. nº785.

Salas, Xavier de, Museo del Prado. Catálogo de las pinturas, Museo del Prado, Madrid, 1972.

Valdivieso, Enrique, Pintura Holandesa del siglo XVII en españa, Universidad, Valladolid, 1973, pp. 405.

Arch. N, Wouwerman's Battle Scene: A Military Appraisal, Preview. City of York Art Gallery Bulletin, 1979, pp. 15-23.

Museo Nacional del Prado, Catálogo de las pinturas, Museo del Prado, Madrid, 1985, pp. 779.

Museo Nacional del Prado, Museo del Prado. Inventario general de pinturas (I) La Colección Real, Museo del Prado, Espasa Calpe, Madrid, 1990.

Bürger, K, wo sich Pferde bäumen, wo der Kampf...wütet...Philips Wouwerman als Schlachtenmaler, Weltkunst, 2002, pp. 1414-1418.

Aterido Fernández, Ángel; Martínez Cuesta, Juan; Pérez Preciado, José Juan, Colecciones de pinturas de Felipe V e Isabel Farnesio. Inventarios Reales, II, Fundación de Apoyo de la Historia del Arte Hispánico, Madrid, 2004, pp. 489.

Los Ejercitos en la Pintura, Ayuntamiento de la Coruña, La Coruña, 2005, pp. 7-10.

Schumacher, Birgit, Philips Wouwerman (1619-1668). The horse painter of the Golden Age, Davaco, Doornspijk, 2006, pp. n.A242 Lám.224.

Luna, J. J., Guerra y pintura en las colecciones del Museo del Prado. S. XVI a Goya, Arte en tiempos de guerra Jornadas de Arte (14º.2008.Madrid), 2009.

Philips Wouverman (1619-1668), Royal Picture Gallery Mauritshuis, Zwolle, 2009.

Posada Kubissa, Teresa, Pintura holandesa en el Museo Nacional del Prado.Catálogo razonado, Museo Nacional del Prado, Madrid, 2009, pp. 159-161.

Rembrandt's Orient: West Meets East in Dutsch Art of the Seventeeth century, Prestel, 2020, pp. 160 nº 31.

Other inventories +

Inv. Felipe V, La Granja, 1746. Núm. 134.
Otra origl. en Lienzo, de mano de Bobermans, que representa una Batalla donde està un Alferez con Vandera en el medio; y delante un Soldado armado, montado à Cauallo amenazando con la Pica à uno de à pie, buelto hacia la Gurupa; y un Cauallo caydo con Ginete. tiene dos tercias, y un dedo de alto; otras dos, y nueue de ancho. Marco dorado, bronceado, tallado de medio relieve ... 1

Inv. Testamentaría Carlos III, Aranjuez, 1794. Núm. 134.
Pieza en que el Rey duerme la siesta [...] [109] 134 / Dos pies y 10 dedos de largo y 2 de altto Batalla en que se ve un Alferez con Bandª. Vouverms. ... 3000

Inv. Fernando VII, Palacio Nuevo, 1814-1818. Núm. 134.
Secretaría de Hacienda [...] {22026} 134 / Vara de largo tres cuartas de alto batalla de caballeria un alferez en el medio con la bandera y un caballo blanco caido = Gobernans

Inv. Real Museo, 1857. Núm. 1608.
F. Wouwermans. / 1608. Batalla. / Lucha encarnizada entre lanceros y peones. / Alto 2 pies, 1 pulg, 6 lin; ancho 2 pies, 6 pulg, 8 lin.

Catálogo Museo del Prado, 1872-1907. Núm. 1837.
1837.-(1608-N.)-Refriega entre lanceros y peones. / Col. de Felipe V, Pal. de San Ildef. / Alto 0,60; ancho 0,71.-L.

Museo Real de Pinturas a la muerte de Fernando VII, 1834. Núm. 218.
SALÓN 1º / ESCUELA HOLANDESA [...] Dos cientos diez y ocho. Una Batalla / de Fels Wouwermans / Lº / 5200

Inscriptions +

PHILS. [anagrama] W.
Signed. Front, lower left corner

Cross of Burgundy or Cross of Saint Andrew, collection’s mark belonging to Felipe V. Front, lower right corner

[¿G O?] [muy borrado]
Inscribed with chalk. Back, right side

Inscribed. Back, right side

Inscribed in orange. Front, lower left corner

Inscribed in pen and ink. Stretcher

Lo. No. 134. / Choque de Caballeria / 3.a
Inscribed in golden colour. Stretcher, upper bar, at center

Nº 2154
Inscribed in pen and ink. Stretcher

Nº. 43 [rubricado]
Inscribed in golden colour. Stretcher, upper bar, at center

Exhibitions +

Rembrandt's Orient. West Meets East in Dutch Art of the 17th Century
13.03.2021 - 18.07.2021

Rembrandt's Orient. West Meets East in Dutch Art of the 17th Century
31.10.2020 - 14.02.2021

Dutch Painters at the Prado
03.12.2009 - 11.04.2010

El Ejército en la Pintura
La Coruña
24.05.2005 - 26.06.2005

Displayed objects +



Lances / Spears: Lanza del tipo valona, del siglo XVII



Update date: 02-06-2022 | Registry created on 28-04-2015

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