signed on the rock lower centre: GDOV (GD in ligature)
Manchester, Art Treasures Exhibition, 1857, no 1039 (where lent by Edward Loyd Esq.);
London, Matthiesen Gallery, Rembrandt's influence in the 17th Century, 1953, no. 17;
Paris, Institut Néerlandais, Bestiaire Hollandais, 1960, no. 64;
Dordrecht, Dordrechts Museum, Leeuwaerden, Fries Museum, Meesterlijk Vee. Nederlandse veeschilders 1600-1900, 1988-9, no. 37.
W. Burger (Th. Thoré), Trésors d'art exposés à Manchester en 1857..., Paris 1857, no. 258;
W. Martin, Het leven en de werken van Gerard Dou, Leiden 1901, no. 359;
C. Hofstede de Groot, A Catalogue Raisonné..., vol. I, London 1907, p. 462, no. 385;
W. Martin (translated and supplemented by L. Dimier), Gerard Dou, sa vie et son oeuvre, Paris 1911, no. 288;
W. Martin, Klassiker der Kunst ... Gerard Dou, Stuttgart/Berlin 1913, p. xviii;
Wetzlar cat., 1952, p. 11, no. 26, reproduced;
W. Sumowski, Gemälde der Rembrandt Schüler, vol. I, Landau/Pfalz 1983, p. 538, no. 306, reproduced p. 603;
Voorkeuren, 1985, p. 28, reproduced p. 29;
G. Jansen, in C. Boschma etc., Meesterlijk Vee. Nederlandse veeschilders 1600-1900, exhibition catalogue, Zwolle 1988, pp. 189-191, no. 37, reproduced;
R. Baer, The paintings of Gerrit Dou (1613-1675), diss., New York University, 1990, vol. 2, (unpaginated), no. 106.
This is a most unusual work within Dou's oeuvre, since it is one of only two pure animal still lifes by him known to us today. The other, depicting a sleeping dog, faggots, basketware and a cooking pot, is in an unspecific setting, but presumably an interior, while the goat depicted here is in a landscape setting.1 The sleeping dog is dated 1650, but the Wetzlar picture is likely to be much later, and is generally dated circa 1660-1665. It is likely to date from before 1665, when Johan de Bye seems to have exhibited it, and as Ronni Baer has noted, there are similarities in the elements of landscape with those in Dou's Nude Woman in St. Petersburg, which was also exhibited by De Bye in 1665, and which is dated to the same time.2
Maarten Jager has drawn attention to the close similarities beween the goat depicted in the Wetzlar picture and another seen in reverse in Marcus de Bye's engraving after Potter (see fig. 1).3
Goats had a rather bad press in the 17th Century. Jager, followed by Jansen and Baer saw in this picture an allegorical meaning, since the goat was a well-understood emblem of lust and unchaste behaviour. Van Mander had spelt this out in 1604: 'Unchastity is signified by the goat... the goat signifies the whore, who corrupts young men just as the goat gnaws off and ruins young green sprouts'.4
1. Signed and dated 1650, oil on panel, 16.5 by 21.6 cm. Private collection (sold, New York, Christie's, 25 May 2005, lot 12, for $4,200,000).
2. See for both Baer & Sumowski under Literature. For the St Petersburg picture, see Baer, no. 103.
3. See under Literature: Voorkeuren; and G. Jansen, reproduced p. 191, fig. 127.
4. K. van Mander, Het Schilderboeck..., Haarlem 1604, fol. 129r.
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