How artists have painted cows
Artists have been painting and drawing cows for centuries. The ways in which cows have been depicted over time reflects various artist movements and influences.
Artists who both worked in studios and, from the 19th century onwards, en plein air have chosen cows as their subject matter, perhaps reflecting the important relationship between humans and cows as well as a way of highlighting and focusing on rural lifestyles.
Let's take a look at several significant artworks featuring cows.
This painting of an Ayrshire cow by William Shiels was painted primarily for scientific purposes. It was one of 100 animal portraits which were part of a process of description and classification that was essential to the successful breeding of improved livestock.
The paintings were commissioned in the 1830s by Professor David Low, the University of Edinburgh's first-ever chair of agriculture. William Shiels, a portrait and animal painter, was sent all over Britain to paint cattle, horses, sheep, goats, pigs and dogs - spending 8 years on the road doing so.
This portrait of a bull was painted in 1647 by Paulus Potter, who was just 22 years old at the time. It is a vast painting, measuring more than three metres in width and two metres in height.
It is a significant artwork from the 17th century in the Netherlands, made noteworthy by its realism and rustic setting. Bulls were a sign of prosperity and wealth, though had not been painted previously. Although the realistic details in the painting suggest one animal, livestock experts determine that the depiction of the bull's anatomy imply it is a composite of several different animals.
This small oil painting measures just 16 by 20 centimetres. It was painted between 1840 and 1860 by Austrian artist Friedrich Gauermann. He was known for landscape paintings as well as animal portraits.
Though he attended the Imperial Academy of Fine Arts in Vienna in his late teenage years, Gauermann was mostly a self-taught artist. In his early years, Gauermann learned by copying animal paintings by Jacob van Ruisdael and Paulus Potter among others.
Many of his paintings depict animals outdoors in their natural environments but, in this painting, the cow is confined within a barn and its head is obscured.
Swedish artist Oscar Björck painted this painting in 1890 after a trip to the Skagen, a town in the north of Denmark.
Björck was one of several Scandinavian artists who travelled to Skagen in the 19th century, inspired by the village's scenery, landscape and fishing community - all of which were captured by their many paintings. Björck's painting is a depiction of the daily toil of farmers working with cows, all of whom in the painting are women. He has devoted great attention to the rendering of light and shadow in the room.
This painting The New Settlers by Antanas Gudaiti was painted in 1933. In this expressive painting, there are vibrant colour combinations - the goat is blue and the cow is bright red.
Antanas Gudaitis is one of the most eminent Lithuanian painters of the 20th century. This painting was produced in the second half of 1933, after he had returned to Lithuania having studied for four years in Paris. The colours here reflect the tastes for modern painting in Paris at the time.
Cow in the ford at dusk is a watercolour by Austrian artist Friedrich König.
He was involved with the Hagen Society, an Art Nouveau group including several artists who later founded the Vienna Secession. This watercolour comes from the Society's inventory, and depicts a cow from behind in a body of water amid an expressive purple and pink sunset.
Dutch landscape painter Willem Maris painted this cow between 1885 and 1895.
Willem Maris mainly painted natural landscapes with animals. His artworks are considered to be part of The Hague School, a group of artists who lived and worked in The Hague between 1860 and 1890.
The painters of the Hague school painted in a realist manner using relatively sombre colours. Maris's lively use of colour distinguished him, and thus he was often called the 'Impressionist of the Hague School'.
Danish artist Theodor Philipsen painted this dynamic painting of cattle on the island of Saltholm between 1888 and 1892. Unlike other paintings here, these cattle are running away from the viewer. The short, richly coloured brushstrokes make the picture vibrate with light, colour, and atmosphere.
Philipsen is known as an artist who adapted the styles and techniques of French Impressionist painting to a style more influenced by the Danish countryside and climate. The colour palette used in this painting, as well as the way the shadows reflects from the cattle, shows his priority is more on portraying sunlight and the power of nature.