This delicate early work by Willem Maris already shows his great attention to light, even though here it is still veiled in morning mists. This painting was first shown as Young calves beside a milktub at the Tentoonstelling van Levende Meesters (Exhibition of Living Masters) in The Hague in 1863 , where it met with no more approval from the critics than Matthijs Maris's Washday, which was shown at the same time. Theophile de Bock cited one of these negative comments in his book on Jacob Maris : 'Such works may have a right to a place in any general assembly of our artists, but it would be a dismal prospect if such excesses were to constitute a school. The light in Willem's work is not a natural light, but that of the music hall.' Knoef has suggested that the animal painter Johan Daniel Koelman (1831-1857) may have inspired Willem Maris's preference for hazy atmospheres and scenes lit from behind.
Source: R. de Leeuw, J. Sillevis, Ch. Dumas (eds.), The Hague School: Dutch masters of the 19th century, The Hague 1983