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The Master Pulls the Cow Out of the Ditch by its Tail

A work made of etching on cream laid paper.
CC0 Public Domain Designation

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  • A work made of etching on cream laid paper.




Jacob Jordaens
Flemish, 1593-1678

About this artwork

The title and subject of this etching come from a proverb in the Dutch poet and humorist Jacob Cats’s 1632 Mirror of Old and New Times. The proverb explains that it is necessary for a person to take responsibility for his or her own affairs. Jacob Jordaens depicted the proverb literally, showing a cow that has fallen into a ditch and must be pulled out by its master. The crowd of onlookers does not help the man, for it is his duty to take care of his animal. The theme of this etching exemplifies the moralizing nature of many Dutch works of the period, and the composition recalls a tapestry by Jordaens in his Proverbs cycle.


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Prints and Drawings


Jacob Jordaens


The Master Pulls the Cow Out of the Ditch by its Tail


Flanders (Artist's nationality:)

Date  Dates are not always precisely known, but the Art Institute strives to present this information as consistently and legibly as possible. Dates may be represented as a range that spans decades, centuries, dynasties, or periods and may include qualifiers such as c. (circa) or BCE.

Made 1652


Etching on cream laid paper


Plate: 22.5 × 31.4 cm (8 7/8 × 12 3/8 in.); Sheet: 20.7 × 30.3 cm (8 3/16 × 11 15/16 in.)

Credit Line

Elizabeth Gott Templeton Endowment

Reference Number


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