Object Image

A Woman and a Boy with Animals at a Ford

In the shade of a rocky cliff, a woman and a child wade in the shallow water of a ford. She looks down at the little boy as he takes a pee in the river. Images of small nude boys relieving themselves were unremarkable in the seventeenth century, although the boys were usually two or three years old, and this child appears a little older.

Dujardin's picture has a pastoral theme - that is, shows an idyllic rural world. This was much appreciated and sought after by Dutch collectors, bringing idealised images of country life into their busy, crowded city lives. The cliffs behind are rocky and inhospitable but the water is cool and refreshing - the dusty path behind the group is already forgotten. ...

Oil on canvas
37.7 x 43.5cm
Image and text © The National Gallery, London, 2024

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