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The Cover
March 12, 2003

The Piebald Horse

Author Affiliations

The Cover Section Editor: M. Therese Southgate, MD, Senior Contributing Editor.

JAMA. 2003;289(10):1210. doi:10.1001/jama.289.10.1210

In the galaxy that is 17th-century Dutch painting, Paulus Potter (1625-1654) was not terribly different from his contemporaries, neither those in Delft, where he was born, nor those in The Hague, where he was married, nor those in Amsterdam, where he was, like Rembrandt before him, the protégé of Dr Nicolas Tulp. Like them, he saw the poetry in the common and the overlooked, things so taken for granted that they had become nearly invisible. But whereas his contemporaries catalogued the life and possessions of Holland's prosperous citizens—their kitchens, bedrooms, breakfast tables, pewter, damask, food, fruit, flowers, lapdogs, children, and cobblestones—Potter turned to the country—to its wide, sky-dominated landscape and to its farm animals. Animals, of course, were common in paintings, but in Potter's hands they were unique: He made them subject of the work, not an accessory to the scene. They are heroic figures in their own right; the landscape is but their attribute.

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