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Overview

This bucolic landscape depicts two horsemen who have stopped on a small rise overlooking a broad river valley to ask local herdsmen for directions. With figures and cattle silhouetted against an expansive sky and late afternoon light bathing the scene in a golden glow, the painting conveys the sense of peace and tranquility that pervaded the Netherlands after the signing of the Treaty of Münster in 1648 had ended the war against Spain and finally established the Dutch Republic.

This highly evocative landscape has a basis in reality: the valley of the Rhine River near the towns of Cleves and Calcar, not far from the Dutch border. Cuyp had visited this broad river valley in the early 1640s and recorded his impressions of its towns, churches, and windmills in a series of panoramic drawings that were once part of a sketchbook. When Cuyp painted this work, he referred to one of his drawings of the town of Calcar, which housed the ruins of the castle of the dukes of Cleves, seen here in the far distance behind the haze. Nevertheless, atmosphere, not topography, was Cuyp’s primary concern, and the result is this quiet, reflective image of an Arcadian Dutch countryside.

Inscription

lower right: A. Cuyp

Provenance

Probably (sale, by J. A. Jolles and H. de Winter, Amsterdam, 23 May 1764, no. 41, bought in). C. Price, London; Frederick Howard, 5th earl of Carlisle [1748-1825], London, and Castle Howard, Yorkshire, by 1771;[1] by descent in the Howard family to George James Howard, 9th earl of Carlisle [1843-1911], London and Castle Howard; purchased September 1907 by (P. & D. Colnaghi, London), half share with (M. Knoedler & Co., London and New York);[2] sold July 1909 to William Andrews Clark [1839-1925], New York; bequest 1926 to the Corcoran Gallery of Art, Washington; acquired 2014 by the National Gallery of Art.

Exhibition History
1815
Probably Pictures by Rubens, Rembrandt, VanDyke, and other Artists of the Flemish and Dutch Schools, British Institution for Promoting the Fine Arts in the United Kingdom, London, 1815, no. 57.[1]
1822
Probably Pictures of the Italian, Spanish, Flemish, and Dutch Schools, British Institution for Promoting the Fine Arts in the United Kingdom, London, 1822, no. 136 or no. 138.
1828
Probably Pictures by Italian, Spanish, Flemish, and Dutch Masters, British Institution for Promoting the Fine Arts in the United Kingdom, London, 1828, no. 83.
1853
Probably Pictures by Italian, Spanish, Flemish, Dutch, French and English Masters, British Institution for Promoting the Fine Arts in the United Kingdom, London, 1853, no. 7.
1861
Possibly Royal Dublin Society, 1861, no. 61, as Cattle Piece.[2]
1959
Loan Exhibition. Masterpieces of the Corcoran Gallery of Art: A Benefit Exhibition in Honor of the Gallery's Centenary, Wildenstein, New York, 1959, unnumbered catalogue, repro.
1978
The William A. Clark Collection: An exhibition marking the 50th Anniversary of the installation of The Clark Collection at The Corcoran Gallery of Art, Washington DC, Corcoran Gallery of Art, Washington, no catalogue.
2001
Aelbert Cuyp, National Gallery of Art, Washington; The National Gallery, London; Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam, 2001-2002, no. 25, repro.
Exhibition History Notes

[1] The early exhibition history references are all tentative, as the Earl of Carlisle owned six paintings attributed to Cuyp, several depicting cattle and horsemen, and the exhibition catalogues provide no detailed descriptions or size information.

[2] Lent by George William Frederick Howard, 7th earl of Carlisle (1802-1864), this painting could be the NGA painting; see Alan Chong, “Aelbert Cuyp and the Meaning of Landscape,” Ph.D. dissertation, New York University, 1992: 375 n. 2.

Bibliography
1829
Smith, John. A Catalogue Raisonné of the Works of the Most Eminent Dutch, Flemish and French Painters. 9 vols. London, 1829-1842: 5(1834):309, no. 93.
1853
"The British Institution. The Old Masters.” The Art-Journal 5 (July 1853): 173.

1907
Hofstede de Groot, Cornelis. A Catalogue Raisonné of the Works of the Most Eminent Dutch Painters of the Seventeenth Century. 8 vols. Translated by Edward G. Hawke. London, 1907-1927: 2(1909):129, no. 424.
1907
Hofstede de Groot, Cornelis. Beschreibendes und kritisches Verzeichnis der Werke der hervorragendsten holländischen Maler des XVII. Jahrhunderts. 10 vols. Esslingen and Paris, 1907-1928: 2(1908):123, no. 424.
1913
Graves, Algernon. A Century of Loan Exhibitions, 1813-1912. 5 vols. London, 1913-1915: 1(1913):240, no. 57; 241, no. 136 or 138; 242, no. 83; 244, no. 7.

1925
Carroll, Dana H. Catalogue of Objects of Fine Art and Other Properties at the Home of William Andrews Clark, 962 Fifth Avenue. Part I. Unpublished manuscript, n.d. (1925): 134, no. 74.
1928
Corcoran Gallery of Art. Illustrated Handbook of the W.A. Clark Collection. Washington, 1928: 38.
1930
Holmes, Jerrold. "The Cuyps in America." Art in America 18, no. 4 (June 1930): 185, no. 31.
1932
Corcoran Gallery of Art. Illustrated Handbook of The W.A. Clark Collection. Washington, 1932: 43, no. 2063, as Landscape with Cattle, Shepherd and Horses.
1955
Breckenridge, James D. A handbook of Dutch and Flemish paintings in the William Andrews Clark collection. Washington, 1955: 11, repro.
1959
Corcoran Gallery of Art. Masterpieces of the Corcoran Gallery of Art. Washington, D.C., 1959: 14, repro.
1967
Dattenberg, Heinrich. Niederrheinansichten holländischer Künstler des 17. Jahrhunderts. Die Kunstdenkmäler des Rheinlands 10. Düsseldorf, 1967: 74, no. 82.
1975
Reiss, Stephen. Aelbert Cuyp. Boston, 1975: 126, no. 89, repro.
1986
Sutton, Peter C. A Guide to Dutch Art in America. Washington and Grand Rapids, 1986: 299, fig. 451.
1988
Heugten, Siraar van. "Grazende modellen: Aspecten van het Nederlandse veestuk.” In Meesterlijk Vee: Nederlandse Veeschilders 1600–1900. Edited by C. Boschma. Exh. cat. Dordrechts Museum; Fries Museum, Leeuwarden. Zwolle, 1988: 23-24, repro.
1992
Chong, Alan. "Aelbert Cuyp and the Meanings of Landscape." Ph.D. dissertation, New York University, 1992: 373-375, no. 133.
1995
Wheelock, Arthur K., Jr. Dutch Paintings of the Seventeenth Century. The Collections of the National Gallery of Art Systematic Catalogue. Washington, 1995: 48, 50 n. 13, as Five Cows, Herdsmen and Two Riders..
2001
Coyle, Laura, and Dare Myers Hartwell, eds. Antiquities to Impressionism: The William A. Clark Collection, Corcoran Gallery of Art. Washington, DC, 2001: 22-23, 67, repro.
2001
Wheelock, Arthur K., Jr. Aelbert Cuyp. Exh. cat. National Gallery of Art, Washington; National Gallery, London; Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam. Washington, 2001: no. 25, 142-143, 197-198, repro.