Object Title
Milking Cows
Object Name
William Kurelek
Date Made
Oil on Masonite
Catalogue Number

71.12 cm x 60.32 cm


A scene depicting the early morning / evening milking of cows in the wintertime. On the left side of the composition is a figure in a green hooded parka and blue overalls, carrying two metal pails of milk and walking towards the left side of the picture plain, in profile, face obscured. Behind this figure is the wood siding of the barn, appearing blue in the winter light. Immediately behind the figure on the left is the open door of the barn, swung wide. On the right side of the composition in the foreground is snowy ground with the first figure's footprints exiting the barn; in the middle ground on the right is a group of variously coloured cats drinking milk out of a shall round pan; in the middle ground near the centre a man wearing heavy black boots, yellow pants, a rust-coloured coat, and a dark "mad bomber" hat pours milk from a larger pitcher into a silver milk pail with his right hand, holding milking apparatus in his left hand. In the upper right corner of the composition the back ends of several cows may be seen. The picture is largely blue on the left and white on the right, with the impression of light and steam issuing from the interior of the barn. The painting is signed "WK 1964" in dark paint in the lower right corner.


Milking Cows, 1964 is part of the Immigrant Farms in Canada series by William Kurelek (1927-1977). This series depicts his parents’ experiences as immigrants from Ukraine to rural Alberta. Kurelek, an idealistic pragmatist, was known for his realistic depictions of the world. In this work, his father is shown emptying a milking machine in a barn while the animals’ body heat reacts to the cool night air. Presumably William, as a young boy, is shown assisting his father.