National Gallery of Art - THE COLLECTION
image of A Farrier's Shop Paulus Potter (artist)
Dutch, 1625 - 1654
A Farrier's Shop, 1648
oil on panel
overall: 48.3 x 45.7 cm (19 x 18 in.)
Widener Collection
1942.9.52
On View
From the Tour: Johannes Vermeer and Dutch Scenes of Daily Life in the 1600s
Object 4 of 8

Farriers are blacksmiths who shoe horses and serve as veterinarians. This bald, spectacled farrier files the tooth of a terrified horse restrained in a brake. Potter gained instant fame for his superb depictions of animal anatomy and psychology. For example, the dogs here ignore the horse's dilemma while snarling over a bone, and chickens diligently scratch for food.

This painting, signed and dated on the door lintel above the blacksmith’s forge, is an exceptional achievement for an artist only twenty-three years old. In a daring interplay of indoor and outdoor lighting effects, Potter contrasted the sparks flying from the smoking forge, the sunshine that streams through the clouds, and the morning fog still clinging over the cattle pasture.

Potter was trained by his father and was painting by age fifteen. He moved frequently, working in Delft, The Hague, and Amsterdam, where he died at age twenty-eight. Even though his career was short, Potter was a tireless worker who left a considerable number of large and small pictures of livestock in farmyards and meadows.

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