Old Master and British Works on Paper

Old Master and British Works on Paper

View full screen - View 1 of Lot 113. Studies of a Man seated on a bench, leaning on a barrel.

Adriaen Jansz van Ostade

Studies of a Man seated on a bench, leaning on a barrel

Lot Closed

July 6, 12:31 PM GMT


8,000 - 12,000 GBP

Lot Details


Adriaen Jansz van Ostade

Haarlem 1610 - 1685

Studies of a Man seated on a bench, leaning on a barrel

Black chalk, possibly oiled in parts, heightened with touches of white chalk, on blue paper

127 by 162 mm

Bears unidentified armorial stamp, upper left (not in Lugt)

This spirited figure study epitomises how the leading Dutch genre painter Adriaen van Ostade used rapid chalk studies of this type to develop figures and poses for use in his painted compositions. 

It is very comparable in style with a double-sided drawing, formerly in the collection of Professor Egbert Haverkamp-Begemann, which Dr. Bernhard Schnackenburg considers a relatively early work, dating from the 1640s.1 That was the moment when Ostade really began to make chalk studies of this type on a regular basis. In their dashing, rather angular handling and frequent use, as here, of a blue paper support, these drawings have few parallels in Dutch drawing of the 17th century. 

Many of them also, like this example, incorporate subsidiary studies on the same sheet, in which Ostade works out in more detail the positioning or fall of light on specific parts of his main figure, such as their hand, leg or head. In the case of the figure seen here, the pose is rather a complex one, so it is not perhaps surprising that Ostade needed to study several times exactly how the raised right leg would rest on the bench.

Although some of Ostade’s figure studies can be connected with surviving paintings, or with figures in the artist’s distinctive, finished watercolours or prints, others cannot. No painted figure exactly corresponding with this one has been identified, but another drawing in Brussels, showing a man also seated with one leg up on the bench beside him, was used as a study for both a painting and an etching.2 A further drawing, in the Rijksmuseum, depicts a figure very similar to the one in the present drawing, but seen from the back,3 and another study of a peasant seated with one leg on the bench, used by Ostade in two etchings of 1653 (B.34 and B.45) is in Hamburg.4  

A hallmark of Ostade’s best figure drawings of this type is the great variety of touch that he uses, with softer areas of chalk contrasting strongly with much darker, sharper lines and touches of white heightening. In that regard, the present drawing can be compared in particular with the outstanding sheet of studies of a violinist, in Hamburg, which the artist used for a dated painting of 1644.5 

1. Sold, New York, Sotheby’s, 31 January 2018, lot 305

2. Brussels, Musées Royaux des Beaux-Arts de Belgique, De Grez Collection, inv. 2781; B. Schnackenburg, Adriaen van Ostade, Isack van Ostade, Zeichnungen und Aquarelle, 2 vols., Hamburg 1981, vol. I, p. 96, cat. no. 74, reproduced vol. II, p. 40

3. Amsterdam, Rijksmuseum, inv. RP-T-00-209; Schnackenburg, op. cit., vol. I, p. 106, cat. no. 124, reproduced, vol. 2, p. 64

4. Hamburg, Kunsthalle, inv. nr. 22 285; Schnackenburg, op. cit., vol. I, p. 94, cat. no. 69, reproduced, vol. 2, p. 37

5. Hamburg, Kunsthalle, inv. nr. 22 292; Schnackenburg, op. cit., vol. I, p. 89, cat. no. 46, reproduced, vol. 2, p. 25