Details & Cataloguing

Old Master & British Works on Paper


Adriaen Jansz. van Ostade
HAARLEM 1610 - 1685
Black chalk and pen and brown ink and wash, within brown ink framing lines
173 by 240 mm
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Sir Thomas Lawrence (1769-1830), London (L.2445);
Thomas Thane (1782-1846), London (L.2461);
Collection Palla, 28 April 1873 (according to note on the reverse of a former mount);
with Durand-Matthiesen, Geneva;
Private Collection, Geneva;
sale, Amsterdam, Christie's, 13 November 1995, lot 158,
where purchased by the late owner


E. Trautschold, 'Über Adriaen van Ostade als Zeichner', Festschrift Friedrich Winkler, Berlin 1959, pp. 286, 288, reproduced;
B. Schnackenburg, Adriaen van Ostade, Isack van Ostade, Zeichnungen und Aquarelle, Hamburg 1981, pp. 37, 39, 43, 57, 80, no. 4, plate 2

Catalogue Note

Adriaen van Ostade was the greatest Dutch exponent of a type of uproarious peasant scene that has its origins in the Southern Netherlands, primarily in the work of the brilliant but short-lived painter, Adriaen Brouwer (circa 1605-1638).  Over the course of his long career, Ostade’s style and subject-matter evolved and developed, but at every stage, drawings played a vital part in his artistic production, and the corpus of drawings that he has left is both substantial and distinguished.  A fine and rare example of an early drawing by the artist, this very lively sheet embodies all the most appealing aspects of Ostade’s style and subject-matter, both of which brought him great fame and success, in his own time and country, and beyond.

Stylistically, this animated scene is characterised by dashing, nervous penwork that only loosely follows the equally rapidly executed black chalk underdrawing, and by a powerful, bold lighting scheme, created with broadly applied washes.  The figures themselves are also in a state of considerable animation, and the overall effect is strongly reminiscent of the work of Brouwer.  It is therefore no surprise to discover that Dr. Bernhard Schanckenburg considers this one of the artist’s earliest surviving drawings, executed circa 1633-34, one of only six sheets that he dates before 1635.  Other drawings from the same period, comparable in terms of style and execution, are in Rotterdam, Dresden and Frankfurt.1

Although many of the drawings that Ostade made later on in his career seem to have been conceived as independent works of art, a significant proportion of the artist’s earliest drawings are specifically connected with his paintings, and this is no exception.  The current location of the painting in question (Hofstede de Groot no. 777) is not known, but the composition is recorded, in reverse, in the print by Jan de Visscher (fig. 1).2

Although this composition works very well in its own right, the motif of the woman holding her nose suggests that the picture may in fact have been conceived as one of a series of related depictions of the senses (this, clearly, being the sense of Smell).

A copy after this drawing is in the Art Institute of Chicago.   

1.  Schnackenburg, op. cit., nos. 3, 5 & 6 
2.  Hollstein vol. XLI, no. 19

Old Master & British Works on Paper