A Cow Grazing
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Adriaen van de Velde
Dutch, Amsterdam, about 1663
Red chalk with black framing lines
6 1/8 x 5 1/2 in.

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Adriaen van de Velde habitually ventured out in the countryside to sketch cattle and landscapes for his paintings. Before ever beginning a painting, he made a preliminary compositional sketch, proceeded to chalk studies of the animals and figures, and then completed a finished drawing.

Departing from the usual norm of his animal drawings, van de Velde placed this cow not in a natural setting but in a close-up, seen from an angle that accentuates the animal's block-like form. Her neck, left shoulder, and head catch the sun directly, while light rakes across her back to reveal muscled forequarters, a protruding belly, and sunken hindquarters above the udder.

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