Landscape with Herdsman
William A. Clark Collection
Cuyp is best known for his Italian-inspired landscapes, set in the Dutch or German countryside and often populated with herds of cows. In Landscape with Herdsmen, the placid animals in a luminous landscape setting evoke the sense of peace and pastoral well-being the Dutch experienced following the establishment of the Dutch Republic. The dairy industry was growing in mid-17th century Holland, particularly in Cuyp’s hometown of Dordrecht, so the presence of the cows could also allude to his country’s prosperity. Although it is not an exact transcription, Cuyp’s scene was based on landscapes he saw while travelling in the Rhine Valley near the towns of Cleves and Calkar, not far from the Dutch border. The most prominent feature of this landscape is Monterberg, the hill barely visible in the distance.