Paulus Potter (1625-1654) was only twenty-one when he painted his famous Bull. His paintings of cows, sheep and other cattle were usually much smaller, so it is likely that The Bull was a commission, though its patron and destination are unknown.
Seven years after painting The Bull, Potter died of ‘too much painting’, according to his family. Despite his premature death, he left an impressive oeuvre, The Bull being its undisputed highlight.
However realistic his paintings may seem, Potter, just like other seventeenth-century artists, did not paint in the open air but in their studios, assembling their compositions from drawn studies.
Shortly after Potter's death, Bartholomeus van der Helst painted his portrait as an tribute to him. Potter's magnificent black cloak, his fashionable wavy hair touching his shoulders and his confident gaze lend him an impressive air.