Like his English contemporary William Hogarth, Troost frequently treated subjects of this type, satirizing the behavior of ‘gentlefolk’ in compositions that combine wry, sometimes harsh, observation with an elegance that to some extent belies their subject-matter; and his technique and use of color is also invariably stylish and brilliantly refined. The most celebrated works by Troost treating subjects of this type are his five splendid pictures in the Mauritshuis, the so-called NELRI series of 1739, which depict the various stages of an evening of drunken revelry1; but those works, executed with supreme subtlety and sophistication in a highly original combination of pastel and gouache, are as different in spirit as they are similar in theme to their counterparts in Hogarth’s œuvre, series such as The Rake’s Progress or Marriage A-la-Mode, which were made as paintings, but primarily conceived as the models for widely-circulated prints. Troost’s works, on the other hand, were generally made on commission for specific, aristocratic patrons, and therein lies their fundamental difference.
The last of the NELRI series, entitled Those Who Could Walk Did; the Others Fell, shows a similar scene, but at night, and incorporates a very similar coach and horses. This motif also occurs in other works by the artist, including a smaller, monochrome drawing, also showing drunken gentlemen leaving a county house at dawn, which Niemeijer describes as a study for the present work.2 That drawing is dated 1742, a dating that also seems reasonable for Drinkenburg, which can therefore be considered as a slightly later reworking of the theme of the final NELRI composition. But it stands apart from most of Troost’s work in the way it combines his familiar satirical humour with an element of highly poetic landscape.
This hugely entertaining and visually engaging work, executed in a mixture of gouache and pastel that is more or less unique to Troost, established an auction record price for the artist when it was last sold, in 1999. That record still stands, for the simple reason that no other work by Troost of anything like the same quality has appeared on the market in the intervening two decades.
1. E. Buijsen and J. W. Niemeijer, Cornelis Troost and the Theatre of his Time, exh. cat. The Hague, Mauritshuis, 1993, cat. nos. 27-31
2. Heino, Stichting Hannema-de Steurs, cat. 1967, no. 339; J.W. Niemeijer, op. cit., 1973, pp. 378-9, no. 824 T, reproduced
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