Masterpieces of the Golden Age

Potter's bull

Masterpiece

Artist Paulus Potter
Title The bull
Year 1647
Technique Oil on canvas
Current location Mauritshuis, The Hague, The Netherlands

Paulus Potter

Even though Paulus Potter (1625-1654) died at the age of 28, he managed to produce about 100 paintings, including many pastoral scenes with cattle.

The bull

The bull

The bull is Potter's best known work. It is a huge (235x339cm), but extremely detailed picture of a young bull. He originally painted a smaller picture, with only the bull, but later enlarged it by sewing pieces of linen to the top and the sides, adding the farmer, cow and sheep on the left, and cattle grazing in the distance on the right. It is unclear whether the painting was a commission.

Interestingly, the different parts of the bull could never have belonged to the same animal: He has the horns of a two-year-old, the teeth of a four-year-old, the shoulders of a fully grown adult bull, and the hindsight of a youngster. Potter probably painted The bull from his drawings and studies of different bulls, instead of a single model.

The bull is on permanent display in the Mauritshuis in The Hague.