A rare addition to the small corpus of drawings by the foremost Dutch animal painter of the 17th century, the short-lived Paulus Potter, this study was attributed by Ann Sutherland Harris and relates to the artist’s largest etching, known as The shepherd (fig. 1; see Hollstein, XVII, p. 220, no. 15, ill.; and B. Broos in Paulus Potter. Paintings, Drawings and Etchings, exhib. cat., The Hague, Mauritshuis, 1994-1995, no. 46, ill.). The group of small trees appear in the right background of the print, with a shepherd playing his flute resting in front of it. Transposing the tree from study to print, Potter made subtle changes, clarifying the intricate form of the trees’ branches. A drawing in black chalk used for the standing sheep in the left foreground of the print is at the British Museum (inv. SL,5214.229). While Potter’s signed autonomous drawings display a different style than the present sheet, it is comparable in its angular, accented and crisp manner to his animal studies made from life (for examples, see the exhibition catalogue cited).
Fig. 1. Paulus Potter, The shepherd, etching, Rijksprentenkabinet, Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam.