Aelbert Cuyp was the painter of the Dutch landscape of simple beauty, giving his paintings a special atmosphere with his mastery use of light and atmospheric effects. This work was probably painted around 1650, before he travelled to the Rhineland. Cuyp frequently painted cows standing around along the riverbank or in shallow water: for instance, a reversed version of the picture, identical in size, is in the Robarts collection in England, together with its companion piece depicting resting bulls. The cow appears in 17th century Dutch texts and emblems as the symbol of the Earth, of fertility, and often of the wealth of the Netherlands. A depiction of the theme without any human figures and having a monumental effect, allows this interpretation.


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