Overview

Farriers—blacksmiths who shoe horses—also served as veterinarians before that became a specialized profession. As the teeth of horses continue to grow throughout their lives, uneven wear leads to chewing problems, which in turn result in improper digestion and eventual malnutrition. As a remedy, farriers file down, or "float," the teeth, as seen in this painting of a terrified horse undergoing such a procedure.

A Farrier’s Shop, signed and dated "Paulus Potter f. 1648" on the 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 light effects, Potter contrasts the sparks flying from the red-hot forge inside the workshop with the sunshine streaming through the clouds and the morning fog lingering over the meadow.

Paulus Potter was trained by his father and quickly gained fame for his superb depictions of animal anatomy and psychology. He was a keen observer who never left the house without a small sketchbook in his pocket so that he could record interesting things he saw on his walks. Potter moved frequently, working in Delft, The Hague, and Amsterdam, where he died at age twenty-eight. He was a tireless worker who in his short life produced a considerable number of highly regarded paintings of animals in farmyards and fields.

Inscription

center left in transom frame above doorway: paulus potter f. 1648

Marks and Labels

null

Provenance

Dominique Bertrand Clemens, Ghent; (his sale, Salle de la Confrerie de Saint George, Ghent, 23 September 1777 and days following, no. 49; bought in). his brother, Jacques Clemens, canon of St. Bavo's Cathedral [1713-1779], Ghent; (his sale, Maison Mortuaire, Ghent, 21 June 1779 and days following, no. 212); Neijman, Amsterdam. Johan Philip de Monté, Utrecht; his widow; (her sale, A. Lamme, Rotterdam, 4-5 July 1825, no. 1); (Lambert Jean Nieuwenhuys, Brussels).[1] Comte François-Alexandre-Charles Perregaux [1791-1837], Paris; (his estate sale, Galerie Le Brun, Paris, 8-9 December 1841, no. 26); George. Madame Autran, Marseilles, by 1867. (Charles Sedelmeyer, Paris), in 1898. M. Rodolphe Kann [d. 1905], Paris and Marseilles, by 1900; purchased 1907 with the entire Kann collection by (Duveen Brothers, Inc., London, New York, and Paris); sold 1909 to Peter A.B. Widener, Lynnewood Hall, Elkins Park, Pennsylvania; inheritance from Estate of Peter A.B. Widener by gift through power of appointment of Joseph E. Widener, Elkins Park, Pennsylvania; gift 1942 to NGA.

Exhibition History

1908
Exhibition of Works by the Old Masters and Deceased Masters of the British School. Winter Exhibition, Royal Academy of Arts, London, 1908, no. 66.
1994
The Pleasures of Paulus Potter's Countryside, Mauritshuis, The Hague, 1994-1995, no. 13, repro. (catalogue titled Paulus Potter: Paintings, drawings and etchings, by Amy Walsh, Edwin Buijsen, and Ben Broos).

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):144, no. 63.
1834
Nieuwenhuys, Charles J. A Review of the Lives and Works of Some of the Most Eminent Painters. London, 1834: 186-188.
1857
Blanc, Charles. Le trésor de la curiosité. 2 vols. Paris, 1857–1858: 2(1858):448.
1867
Westrheene Wz., Tobias van. Paulus Potter: sa vie et ses oeuvres. The Hague, 1867: 178, no. 22.
1898
Sedelmeyer, Charles. Illustrated Catalogue of 300 Paintings by Old Masters of the Dutch, Flemish, Italian, French, and English schools, being some of the principal pictures which have at various time formed part of the Sedelmeyer Gallery. Paris, 1898: no. 108, repro.
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: 4(1911):654, no. 154.
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: 4(1911):679, no. 154.
1907
Sedelmeyer, Charles. Catalogue of Rodolphe Kann Collection. 2 vols. Paris, 1907: 1:viii, repro. 64, 65.
1908
Royal Academy of Arts. Exhibition of works by the old masters, and by deceased masters of the British School, including a collection of water colours. Exh. cat. Royal Academy of Arts, London, 1908: 19, no. 66.
1908
"The Farrier's Shop by Paul Potter." Connoisseur 20 (March 1908): 20, cover repro.
1913
Hofstede de Groot, Cornelis, and Wilhelm R. Valentiner. Pictures in the collection of P. A. B. Widener at Lynnewood Hall, Elkins Park, Pennsylvania: Early German, Dutch & Flemish Schools. Philadelphia, 1913: unpaginated, repro.
1923
Paintings in the Collection of Joseph Widener at Lynnewood Hall. Intro. by Wilhelm R. Valentiner. Elkins Park, Pennsylvania, 1923: unpaginated, repro.
1931
Paintings in the Collection of Joseph Widener at Lynnewood Hall. Intro. by Wilhelm R. Valentiner. Elkins Park, Pennsylvania, 1931: 98, repro.
1932
Arps-Aubert, Rudolf von. Die Entwicklung des reinen Tierbildes in der Kunst des Paulus Potter. Halle, 1932: 37, no. 28.
1938
Waldmann, Emil. "Die Sammlung Widener." Pantheon 22 (November 1938): 338.
1942
National Gallery of Art. Works of art from the Widener collection. Washington, 1942: 6.
1948
National Gallery of Art. Paintings and Sculpture from the Widener Collection. Washington, 1948 (reprinted 1959): ix, 54, repro.
1965
National Gallery of Art. Summary Catalogue of European Paintings and Sculpture. Washington, 1965: 104.
1968
National Gallery of Art. European Paintings and Sculpture, Illustrations. Washington, 1968: 92, repro.
1975
National Gallery of Art. European paintings: An Illustrated Summary Catalogue. Washington, 1975: 274, repro.
1984
Walker, John. National Gallery of Art, Washington. Rev. ed. New York, 1984: 291, no. 380, color repro., as by Paul Potter.
1985
National Gallery of Art. European Paintings: An Illustrated Catalogue. Washington, 1985: 317, repro.
1985
Walsh, Amy L. "Paulus Potter: His works and their meaning." Ph.D. dissertation, Columbia University, New York, 1985: 215-222, 228, 291, 338-339, 417, repro.
1986
Sutton, Peter C. A Guide to Dutch Art in America. Washington and Grand Rapids, 1986: 306.
1990
Sutton, Peter C. Northern European Paintings in the Philadelphia Museum of Art. Philadelphia, 1990: 240, repro.
1994
Walsh, Amy L., Edwin Buijsen, and Ben P. J. Broos. Paulus Potter: Paintings, drawings, and etchings. Exh. cat. Royal Picture Gallery Mauritshuis, The Hague. Zwolle, 1994: 33, 92-94, no. 13, repro.
1995
Buijsen, Edwin. "Het Paard in de Mond Gekeken: Een veterinaire kijk op de schilderijen van Paulus Potter." Mauritshuis in Focus 8 (May 1995): 24-26, fig.12.
1995
Wheelock, Arthur K., Jr. Dutch Paintings of the Seventeenth Century. The Collections of the National Gallery of Art Systematic Catalogue. Washington, 1995: 198-200, color repro. 199.
2001
Liedtke, Walter A., Michiel Plomp, and Axel Rüger. Vermeer and the Delft school. Exh. cat. Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; National Gallery, London. New Haven, 2001: 332-334, fig. 268.

Conservation Notes

The cradled-panel support consists of a single board with a vertical grain. Worm tunnels are visible in the X-radiograph and on the back of the panel, and a small vertical hairline crack is found along the bottom edge, just right of center. Vertical striations are visible from the brush application of the moderately thick white ground. Opaque paint is applied in light passages with impasted highlights, while dark passages are thinly glazed in a series of translucent layers.

Pentimenti of a chicken and a stick are visible in the lower right corner, and minor changes were made in the legs of the standing dog. The sky and dark passages are moderately abraded, and there are scattered small losses and local abrasions, particularly along the right edge in a vertical band. The painting was treated in 1981 to remove discolored varnish and inpainting, although insoluble overpaint was left in place in some areas.

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