A rural landscape: milkmaids milking cows; hunters shooting game birds. Engraving by S. à Bolswert after Sir P.P. Rubens.
- Rubens, Peter Paul, 1577-1640.
- [between 1620? and 1659]
About this work
The painting is described by Adler as follows (left and right have to be reversed for the engraving): "A stream overarched by tall trees, its surface iridescent in the light of the setting sun, flows through a region of pasture-land, interspersed with groves of trees, towards the right lower corner of the picture. Here, on raised ground beside a small waterfall, are two men and a dog. Their attention is centred on the middle of the picture; one of the men is kneeling and has just fired his gun, probably at a fieldfare, while the dog crouches, ready to jump forward. This corner group, and still more that of the cows and maids who fill the rest of the foreground, is extremely varied and striking on account of its intensity of coloration and the effects of light and shade which also appear in the Brabant scenery of the middle distance and background. On the left, the grey-blue clouds of a stormy shower are drifting away; from the right the warm reddish-yellow light of the setting sun filters through between the thick overlapping treetrunks and unexpectedly illuminates the moving bodies of the cattle and dairymaids: the animals fallow, light brown, piebald white and dark brown, the maids’ clothing bright red, violet, white and dark blue; their hair is blonde, their skin of a light nacreous colour. The foreground extends to the left, a clearlydefined greenish-brown expanse of land. Glancing red light can be seen all along the left bank of the stream and far into the picture, where it catches the udders and hindquarters of the cows at the far edge of the foreground, which are diminished in size and merge into the colour of the distant scene. In front, but as though enframed by the trees that arch over the stream further back, is a sturdy young woman stepping leftwards, dressed in red with a silvery sheen, violet-brown and white; she bears on her head a large wooden milk-tub and raises her arms in contrapposto to steady it with one hand on the lower edge and the other on its handle. Of the other maids, two are crouching or sitting to milk two of the eleven cows, while a third is occupied with the brass receptacles lying or standing on the ground. Under the trees are country cottages. The distant horizon is visible only on the left, where large birds appear in front of the stormy sky. At the right edge of the picture, quite close, on the far side of the stream, is a large tree with a broad fork; its rough bark is a warm brown in the evening sunshine, balancing the warm brown tones of the cattle further left and in the lower left corner. The large expanse of ground with the cows and maids is clearly divided from the stream: the diagonal line separating the two is emphasized by the sportsman’s shot and is only slightly overlapped by two cows and the girl with the milk-tub."--Adler, loc. cit.
Where to find it
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