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Landscape with Cattle and Figures

The Dutch painter Aelbert Cuyp (1620-91) captures a moment of peaceful, pastoral life. The composition is bathed in the soft warm glow of the yellow sunlight, while a group of shepherds converse on a grassy knoll, pausing from the daily routines of tending livestock. In the left and right foreground, a pair of rams and a trio of cows are placed in shadow, contrasting with the central illuminated shepherds and the sheep which graze nearby.  The expansive sky dominates two-thirds of the canvas, creating a sense of vastness that is amplified by the shepherd who points towards a glimpsed waterway and distant, unseen horizon.

Today Cuyp is renowned for his landscape paintings, infused with golden light and peppered with animals and figures. Painted when he was around twenty, the strong lighting effects in this painting are typical of Cuyp’s early works. Cuyp would take influence in his colour and light effects from contemporary Dutch artists working in Rome, Italy, who were known as the ‘Dutch Italianates’. His ability to infuse his works with warm and atmospheric golden light reflect this Italian influence upon his Dutch scenes.

Currently on display

Aelbert Cuyp
c. 1640–41
Gallery 4
40 x 59 cm
Oil on panel
Signed, lower right: 'A cuӱp'
Bourgeois Bequest, 1811
Accession number
Conserved by means of a generous grant from the Getty Grant Program, 2004