I decided to analyze the painting by Paulus Potter that was painted in 1647. It is part of the Mauritshuis collection in the Netherlands. The painting is titled The Bull or Young Bull because the younger bull in the center demands a lot of the attention. Paulus Potter designed the oil painting on a canvas to be life size. At first glance my eyes immediately went to the rancher who is keeping watch over his personal animals. He is the odd one out because he is the only human in the picture. The younger bull is followed by the rest of the animals lined up to the left of him. There is an older, larger bull at the feet of the first. Next to it are a mother sheep and her baby lamb. Last, standing next to the rancher is the ram. None of the animals close to the front of the picture seem to be the same age or gender. The painter wanted to focus on these few, animals compared to the other animals in the painting, because each animal has a specific meaning. After investigating farther into the meaning, I discovered that the bull was a symbol of prosperity for the Dutch and showed up in many of their paintings during this time period. I can only assume the reason why the cow represented prosperity was because ranchers with more cows tended to have more money. Ranchers would make their money by selling the cattle they had. Younger cows would be worth more because they had more potential. In the background, we can see the rancher’s field littered with other ranch animals. If all the animals in the picture belong to the man we can assume he is a wealthier farm owner. Throughout this course we have seen that most people have a different understanding of what farmers do and that there are many different levels of farming. People automatically go to the Hollywood version of a farmer who are poor and uneducated. In one of the chapters we read there are jokes that support this idea while people who have experienced the life of a farmer know that it is hard work. This painting represents the life of a rich farmer by highlighting the outcome of his hard work and his bright future with the young bull.
"Mauritshuis." Mauritshuis | Artstor. N.p., n.d. Web. 20 Nov. 2016.
"The Young Bull." Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, n.d. Web. 20 Nov. 2016.