|Paulus Potter, Bartholomeus van de Heist|
|The Young Bull, ca. 1647, Paulus Potter|
Paulus Potter was born in 1625. His father was the Dutch painter, Pieter Potter, who was his son's primary source of art instruction. His life is fairly unremarkable. He grew up near Amsterdam, married the daughter of the city's architect, and used his in-law's connections to obtain painting commissions. He died at the age of 28 of tuberculosis. But in this short working life span of maybe ten years, we find a devotion to animal art second to none in Dutch painting. Unlike Cuyp, who painted cows merely as interesting foregrounds to his airy, sun setting landscapes, Potter treated his cows and their mates with a dignity approaching that of portraiture. Anyone who's ever been around cows knows each one has a personality. (My wife grew up on a dairy farm.) Potter knew that too, and captured them. His drawings and etchings speak of an intimate, on-site knowledge of their "human" traits. Yet never is there a "cutesy" look to any of his creatures. He may not have grown up on a farm, but like me, he knew them well. One of his etchings is titled Cow Pissing. Even Cuyp didn't go that far. Nothing boring about that!
|Cow Pissing, ca. 1650, Paulus Potter|