Private collection, UK
Adam Colonia was born in Rotterdam, but moved to London in 1670, where he spent the latter part of his career. Colonia specialized primarily in landscapes that he filled with figures and animals. Over the course of his artistic career, people and animals gained increasing prominence over landscape as his subject. Dr. Fred Meijer has studied our painting in its original and confirmed the attribution, noting stylistic resemblance to Adam Pynacker.
In our piece, Head of a Cow, Colonia has depicted a close-up view of a cow’s head, painted in a Dutch Italianate style. He has placed a reduced emphasis on the background, in order to focus entirely upon the subject of the composition. The directness of the cow’s friendly gaze immediately captivates the viewer, drawing us into the pictorial space. The animal’s architectonic head seems to negate the need for a detailed background. The cow’s features have been rendered in a naturalistic style. The brushwork is an integral part of this piece, implying surface texture and volume. In addition, attention to detail, such as that of the rich foliage, or the soft feel of the cow’s skin and nose, contribute to the overall endearing quality of the painting. The rather neutral background consists of brown and green landscape hues that do not direct the viewer’s attention away from the cow’s head, which is clearly the focal point of this charming piece. The rich foliage that appears immediately behind the cow’s head further accentuates this relation.