Gerard ter Borch (Zwolle 1617 - 1681 Deventer)
A Stable, circa 1654
Oil on oak panel, 17¾ x 20 7/8 inches (45 x 53 cm)
Signed with initials GTB on the reverse
The genre paintings of Ter Borch do not in general stray far beyond the rooms of well-to-do townsfolk. This beautiful stable scene, though typical in its restrained colour, is an unusual subject in his œuvre. It was probably painted around 1654, the year in which he finally settled in Deventer, after working in Haarlem and Amsterdam and travelling extensively in Europe.
The farmer grooms his dappled grey gelding in a modest stable while his wife looks in from the doorway leading to the house. Daylight from the table door, situated behind the spectator, falls sharply across the horse, focusing our interest on the main subject of the painting. Ter Borch depicts the scene with an impartial regard for every detail and records the paraphernalia of the stable with the same exact sense of texture as he would the furnishing of a merchant’s parlour. In his observation of people there is always a dignified calm and a subtle perception of their psychological relationships, though these are not always easy to interpret. Perhaps, in this picture, the farmer is aware that his wife is at the door, but their familiarity in the picture it unnecessary for him to interrupt his task to acknowledge her presence.
It has been suggested that another panel by Ter Borch of almost identical size – the interior of a cowshed – is a pendant to the present painting.