Jan van Os (Middelharnis 1744 – 1808 The Hague)
A Bull in a Landscape
Pencil, black ink framing lines, 169 x 253 mm (6.7 x 9.8 inch)
Signed lower right ‘J: Van Os. fe.’
Jan van Os was taught by Aert Schouman and spent all his professional career in The Hague, where he joined the painters’ confraternity Pictura in 1773. His painted oeuvre consists mainly of highly finished still-lifes of fruit and flowers in the tradition of Jan van Huysum.
The present work shows the influence of Paulus Potter’s 1647 masterpiece The Bull, now in the Mauritshuis, The Hague (see last photo). This huge painting was acquired by Stadtholder Willem IV in 1749 and was in Willem V’s publicly accessible cabinet in Van Os’s day, until it was taken to the Louvre by Napoleon’s troops in 1795. Van Os reused the general stance of the bull, but adjusted the position of the legs. He situated the impressive animal in a landscape which is part realistic and typical of the Dutch countryside, with a farmhouse at the left and a little hamlet in the background, and part classical: the stone urn on a plinth behind the bull. The dual approach is characteristic for the neoclassical period in which Van Os worked.
Works by Van Os can be found in the National Gallery, London, the Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam, and many other museums around the world.
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