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A cottage with peasants milking goats, to the right the Prodigal Son as a swineherd

ca. 1620
26.2 x 37.8 cm

This study drawing on paper, is a pre-lude to our work “A cottage with peasants milking goats“. It has been featured in all of our catalogues for the past 22 years, so it is great that we have been able to acquire it in 2024, to show alongside each other.

Although Roethlisberger identified this large and impressive drawing as a squared preparatory study for a painting in a private collection (fig.1), Bolten surprisingly considered it a copy. The handling and quality seem, however, consistent with Bloemaert’s autograph works of the period around 1615-25, which is consistent with Roethlisberger’s dating of circa¬†1620 for the painting. The painting shows some differences of detail from the drawing, and also lacks entirely the right hand section of the composition, with the Prodigal son, transforming it into a pure landscape with no historical or religious subject, of a type that is, as Roethlisberger notes, almost unknown in Bloemaert’s work. It seems most likely that the painting originally included this additional element, but has been cut down at some point.