A Herdsman Driving Cattle over a Bridge

Style of:
Cuyp, Aelbert (b.1620, d.1691)
previously attributed to Aelbert Cuyp (b.1620, d.1691)
previously attributed to Jacob de Strij (Dutch, b.1756, d.1815)
school of Abraham van Calraet (Dutch, b.1642, d.1722)
c 1750-1800
dated as an 18th century copy
Place of production:
Dordrecht, Holland, Netherlands
oil on panel
Type of object:
Accession number:


Once thought to be by Aelbert Cuyp (1620-1691), this panel is now believed to be by a contemporary imitator or an 18th-century follower of Cuyp. It was probably painted in Dordrecht, perhaps for the English market. It has some similarities with a painting by Jacob van Strij (1756-1815), an imitator of Cuyp, in Dordrechts Museum.

Although the Waddesdon painting is not by Jacob van Strij as he used lighter colours in his work, he may have known the artist of the painting and used similar sources. Jacob painted a work with a similar bridge now in Dordrechts Museum (DM/896/143). Jacob's brother Abraham made a drawing after a Cuyp composition which also shows a very similar bridge with light raking through from behind ( Frankfurt, Graphische Sammlung in Städelsches Kunstinstitut, inv. no. 4500). Details of the composition also appear in a drawing attributed to Cuyp (George and Maida Abrams Collection). The distinctive raking light coming through the bridge appears to have caught the interest of the van Strij brothers. Other Dutch 17th- century artists also used the motif of the bridge to introduce a point of interest in the flat Dutch landscape.

Aelbert Cuyp was little known outside Dordrecht during his lifetime and in the years after his death. Towards the end of the 18th century, his works became very fashionable and expensive. Around this time, writers began complaining that lots of works were being sold as genuine when they were in fact copies or pastiches. The Strij brothers were amongst several artists who copied Cuyp's paintings as drawings and sometimes as paintings - and were accused of making forgeries - although they did use their own distinct style. Other artists in Dordrecht were not so scrupulous. This painting, which bears Cuyp's name at lower left, was probably made by someone hoping to deceive the market. The signature shows a knowledge of Cuyp's, but it is too small. The town in the background is thought to be The Hague, but in the 19th century it was believed to be Dordrecht. The artist perhaps merged the two, rather than rendering one realistically, suggesting it was intended for a buyer unfamiliar with the local landscape.

The painting was once owned by the British collector and art historian, John Smith, who was one of the first people to try to catalogue all of Cuyp's known works. It was also owned by the 18th-century connoisseur, Ralph Willett. Both Willett and Smith believed the painting to be the genuine article. The golden evening light is certainly characteristic of Cuyp's effects of light and shadow - it gives the composition a warmth that is contrasted with the coolness of the water of the central canal.

Phillippa Plock, 2011

Physical description

Dimensions (mm):
705 x 908
Signature & date:
signed, lower left: A. Cŭijp


Owned by Ralph Willett (1719-1795); bequeathed by Ralph Willett to his cousin John Willett Adye, later Willett (d. c. 1813); bought at John Willett Willett sale by Peter Coxe 1 June 1813, lot no. 75, 'Landscape with Figures' by Aelbert Cuyp, for 270 guineas; acquired by ‘Lady B’; bought privately by John Smith from 'Lady B' in 1817 for 300 guineas; bought from John Smith by the 1st Marquess of Bristol Frederick Hervey (b.1769, d.1859); acquired by Baron Ferdinand de Rothschild (b.1839, d.1898); inherited by his sister Alice de Rothschild (b.1847, d.1922); inherited by her great-nephew James de Rothschild (b.1878, d.1957); bequeathed to Waddesdon The Rothschild Collection (The National Trust) in 1957.
Waddesdon (National Trust)
Bequest of James de Rothschild, 1957



[n. pub.]; Catalogue of Paintings, Property of John Willett Esq; 1813; London; no. 75
John Smith; A Catalogue Raisonné of the Works of the Most Eminent Dutch, Flemish and French Painters; 9 vols; London; Smith and Son; 1829-1842; vol. 5, p. 319, no. 126
Cornelis Hofstede de Groot; A Catalogue Raisonné of the Works of the Most Eminent Dutch Painters of the Seventeenth Century. Vols 1-4 [1907-1927]; Bishops Stortford; Chadwick Healey; 1976; vol. 2, no. 417 or 419
Ellis Waterhouse, Anthony Blunt; Paintings: The James A. de Rothschild Collection at Waddesdon Manor; Fribourg; Office du Livre, The National Trust; 1967; pp. 132-133, cat. no. 54
S. Reiss; Aelbert Cuyp; London; Zwemmer; 1975; no. 71
40 niederländische Zeichnungen: Landschaften und Bildstudien; 1982; Dusseldorf; no. 21; on related drawing in Abrams collection
Alan Chong; Aelbert Cuyp and the Meanings of Landscape; New York University; 1992; p. 452, cat. no. C20; with a tentive attribution to Jacob van Strij, as 'Herder driving cattle over a bridge, with The Hague in the distance'
John Sweetman; The Artist and the Bridge, 1700 - 1920; Aldershot; Ashgate Publishing; 1999; p. 9, no. 6

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