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Cows and sheep. Plate 2: A pied bull and three sheep.
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Cows and sheep. Plate 2: A pied bull and three sheep.
Work Type
prints, etchings, works on paper
Plate: 167mm (width), 139mm (height), Support: 172mm (width), 144mm (height)
The Dutch Golden Age artist Adriaen van de Velde (1636-72) first studied with his father Willem van de Velde the Elder, then trained with a landscapist in Haarlem. He produced his first known works, six etchings, in 1653 and had returned to Amsterdam by 1657. Van de Velde's varied body of paintings, drawings, and prints comprises primarily of small landscapes in sparkling light softened by the haze of the nearby sea, with people and animals playing an important part. He often added staffage (figures, animals and other accessories) to other artists' landscapes. Like his older but also short-lived contemporary, Paulus Potter, van de Velde preferred cattle scenes. Potter's tight, precise technique and hard, cool sunlight also influenced van de Velde's early pictures. His regular system of drawing before painting often included sketching cattle in the fields and figures from life in the studio; the increased prominence he gave to figures and animals required this more observational method. Responding to works by Italianate painters Karel Dujardin and Nicolaes Berchem around 1658, van de Velde began to use warmer hues and a softer, a more yellow sunshine. According to the great biographer of Dutch artists, Arnold Houbraken, According to Houbraken, van de Velde died while in collaboration with Jan van der Heyden and Frederik de Moucheron, painting animals on their paintings.

Adriaen van de Velde made 24 etchings in the course of his short career. Te Papa currently has five of them in its collection, all of them presented by Bishop Ditlev Monrad to the Colonial Museum in 1869. This etching is Plate 2 from a series of three, entitled Cows and sheep. It depicts a bull - or more properly a steer or neutered bull - of an impressively rendered piebald pelt. In close proximity but facing the opposite direction are two recumbent sheep, while a third stands some distance away. The setting is a meadow in rolling - not very Dutch-looking - countryside, with a wild arum in the foreground, significantly left untouched by the grazing animals.

See: J. Paul Getty Museum, 'Adriaen van de Velde',

Dr Mark Stocker Curator, Historical International Art April 2019

Collection: Art
Gift of Bishop Monrad, 1869
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Image and original data provided by Museum of New Zealand - Te Papa Tongarewa
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