The Wallace Collection

The Wallace Collection, A Family Collection, A National Museum, An International Treasure House
The Milkmaid
  • Paulus Potter (1625 - 1654)
  • The Milkmaid
  • Netherlands
  • 1646
  • Painting
  • Oil on oak panel
  • Image size: 38.1 x 50.3 cm
  • Signature: 'paulus.potter.f a 1646'
  • P219
  • East Galleries II
Further Reading
  • Paulus Potter specialised in the depiction of animals in landscape and farmyard scenes. His chief source of inspiration was Pieter van Laer, who made a series of etchings of domestic animals in 1636. As his career progressed, the animals took on an increasingly prominent place within the composition. Potter’s rural subjects reflect the importance of agriculture in the seventeenth-century Dutch economy. While describing farm workers and their animals with great care, as in The Milkmaid (left), Potter emphasises the close connection of his subjects to the earth and gives them an aura of heroic grandeur. A sense of monumentality is created by the low viewpoint, accentuating the size of the animals and the milkmaid. The texture is remarkable: by applying thick white or light yellow paint to the smooth coats of the animals, Potter mimics the appearance of individual patches of hair and wool.