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Two Cows in a Meadow
Potter, Paulus
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Potter, Paulus

Enkhuizen, 1597 - Amsterdam, 1652

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Two Cows in a Meadow

1652. Oil on panel.
Not on display

Two Cows in a Meadow is one of Paulus Potter`s characteristic cabinet paintings featuring domestic animals, which were generally much more accomplished than his large compositions. They may be interpreted as a transposition to the Dutch countryside of the Roman rural landscapes with animals of Pieter van Laer, il Bamboccio (ca. 1592-1642). Hofstede de Groot does not mention this painting. Walsh (1994) believes that an existing drawing inscribed P. Potter (r) and on the reverse Potter in red chalk (Amsterdam, Historical Museum, inv. A 18124) may have been a study for the standing cow. The drawing is attributed to the artist`s father, Pieter Symonsz. Potter (ca. 1597/1600-1652), but Walsh links it to the series of engravings on bulls and horses executed by Potter in 1652.

In the foreground two resting cows, one standing and one sitting, are silhouetted against the sky above the horizon line. Further into the background stands a goat with its head turned towards the background. The scene is bordered on the left by a wall, behind which towers a pollarded tree, whereas on the right the landscape stretches into the distance, where grazing horses can be discerned and, on the horizon, a forest.

It is a very open composition with a sophisticated spatial construction that is characteristic of Potter`s post-1645 works. The careful arrangement of the various elements into tangential planes is designed to steer the viewer`s gaze towards the background along a gentle curve, from the tree on the left to the cows, from them to the goat, and finally towards the landscape that extends into the distance. This movement is reinforced by the position of the heads of the animals, which also appear to direct their gazes towards this landscape. The light filters through the clouds and defines the space, the forms and, above all, the various textures, especially the features of the terrain and the animals` coats. The paint is applied with tight brushstrokes and heavy impasto. Despite their detailed realism, Potter`s animals display a certain amount of anatomical inaccuracy. There is a very similar composition that is signed and dated 165]?[ (Posada Kubissa, T.: Pintura holandesa en el Museo Nacional del Prado. Catálogo razonado, 2009, pp. 310).


Technical data

Inventory number
Potter, Paulus
Two Cows in a Meadow
Height: 30 cm; Width: 35 cm
Bequest of Mª. de los Dolores Hernández y Márquez, Dowager Marchioness of Cabriñana del Monte, 1894.

Bibliography +

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. 30, 147-148 y 342.

Haak, Bob, The Golden Age. Dutch Painters of the Seventeenth Century, Harry N.Abrams, Nueva York, 1984, pp. 147 y 328-329.

Museo Nacional del Prado, Catálogo de las pinturas, Museo del Prado, Madrid, 1985, pp. 514.

Walsh, Amy, Paulus Potter. Paintings, Drawings and Etchings, Mauritshuis, La Haya, 1995, pp. 178.

Museo Nacional del Prado, Museo del Prado: inventario general de pinturas, III, Museo del Prado, Espasa Calpe, Madrid, 1996, pp. nº1182.

Posada Kubissa, Teresa, Pintura holandesa en el Museo Nacional del Prado. Catálogo razonado, Museo Nacional del Prado, Madrid, 2009, pp. 113-114.

Other inventories +

Inv. Nuevas Adquisiciones (iniciado en 1856). Núm. 1182.
Autor = Paul Setter / 1182. Un cuadro que representa "Un pais" / Alto 0,30 = ancho 0,32

Inscriptions +

Paulus Potter / F. 1652
Signed and dated. Front, left side

[Tres sellos de lacre rojo con diferentes escudos, en uno de ellos se lee C.E.Falkenbeeg]
Wax seal. Back

Nº 2131
Inscribed in pen and ink. Back

T. 1182
Inscribed in blue. Front, lower left corner

Exhibitions +

Dutch Painters at the Prado
03.12.2009 - 11.04.2010

Update date: 18-06-2022 | Registry created on 28-04-2015

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