The Wallace Collection

The Wallace Collection, A Family Collection, A National Museum, An International Treasure House
The Horse Fair
  • Philips Wouwermans (1619 - 1668)
  • The Horse Fair
  • Netherlands
  • late 1660s
  • Painting
  • Oil on mahogany panel
  • Image size: 64.3 x 88.4 cm
  • Signature: 'PHILIPS. [in monogram] W'
  • P65
  • East Galleries III
Commentary
History
Further Reading
  • The Horse Fair is the most famous of the pictures by Wouwermans in the Wallace Collection. His talents as a horse painter are particularly evident, while the occasion of a horse fair allows the artist to contrive an idyllic juxtaposition of the working and leisured classes, thereby combining high and low-life genre to decorative effect. Picturesque interest is provided in the foreground by a wealth of small figures going about their business. The extensive landscape beyond is remarkable for its silver-grey tonality, suggesting a late date in the 1660s. A feeling of space is created in the foreground by a low-lying diagonal shaft of light leading to a rearing white horse and horse-drawn carriage, while the eye is led across the wider landscape, attracted by the successive planes of light and shade, towards the silver ribbon of a river stretching into the hazy distance of the horizon. The picture demonstrates Wouwermans’ strengths as a landscapist in creating subtle evocations of a vaguely Mediterranean or Italianate terrain and atmosphere. Yet like Cuyp and Pynacker, he probably never visited Italy, although he was much influenced by his Dutch Italianate contemporaries, such as Jan Asselijn. The 4th Marquess of Hertford, who appreciated such exquisitely executed paintings of such fine provenance, bought at least seven works by the artist.