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Adriaen van Ostade
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A prolific painter, draftsman and etcher of peasant life during Holland’s “Golden Age,” Adriaen van Ostade created hundreds of paintings, some 400 drawings and watercolors and 50 etchings durng his five-decade career. Ostade’s father had moved to Haarlem by 1605 from the Eindhoven area, perhaps from the tiny village of Ostade, which may have given Ostade his surname. The third of eight children, Ostade was baptized at Haarlem’s Saint Bavo cathedral on December 10, 1610. Little is known of his artistic training. in Arnold Houbraken’s (1660-1719) early 18th-century biography states that Ostade studied with Frans Hals (ca. 1591-1666) around 1627, and that Adriaen Brouwer (1606-1638) studied with Hals about the same time. No substantiation has been found for this claim. Brouwer stayed in Haarlem until about 1631, and Ostade’s early works do show Brouwer’s influence in its depictions of raucous peasant life. Another suggestion is that Ostade studied with the landscape painter Salomon van Ruysdael (1600-1670). The first document reflecting a sale of a work of art by Ostade concerns a painting sold in 1632, suggesting that he was an established artist by then. The records of the artists’ guild of St. Luke’s do not show when he joined the Guild, but in 1634 one of his works was included in a lottery organized by the Guild and he must have been a member then. Ostade became a member of a civic guard military company in 1636. He married Macheltje Pietersdr. in 1638, but she died four years later without bearing any children. Ostade’s paintings and drawings of the 1630’s and 1640’s show peasants drinking, fighting, gambling, and dancing, in taverns, homes, barns and the out-of-doors, moralistic satires on human frailty. He apparently began etching at this time; his earliest etchings are dated to 1647-1652. He continued to etch thorough the 1670’s. The themes of his works changed in the 1650’s, with more prosperous figures and locales, showing idyllic peasant life, perhaps driven by his increasing prosperity or a change in the tastes of his customers. In 1657 Ostade married again, to Anna Ingels (d. 1666) who was from a wealthy Catholic family in Amsterdam. He may have converted to Catholicism at this time. The couple had one child, a daughter. He remained active in the painters’ guild, was elected hoofdman (leader) in 1647 and 1661 and appointed deken (dean) in 1662. After the death of wife Anna in 1666, Ostade received a large inheritance from her and her father, allowing him to move to a wealthy area of Haarlem. One of the most important draftsmen of Dutch genre scenes, Ostade created watercolors and pen-and-ink drawings throughout his career. By the 1670’s he began to paint highly finished, colorful watercolors, virtually miniature paintings, which were highly sought after in his time and remain so today. Ostade influenced several students, particularly his younger brother Isack (1621-1649), who created a prodigious body of work during his short life, Cornelis Bega (1631/32-1664), Cornelis Dusart (1660-1704), who inherited many of the works in Ostade’s studio after his death, and perhaps Jan Steen (1635/26-1679) did as well. Ostade died on April 27, 1685, only six days after signing his daughter’s marriage settlement with a Haarlem surgeon.. Printed invitations were issued for his funeral at Saint Bavo’s, one of which survives. Sales of his works, etching plates and collected art were held in July 1685 and again in April 1686. His etchings remained popular for centuries; the fifty etching plates had come into the hands of the French painter and engraver Bernard Picart (1673-1733) by 1710, who reprinted them, and two more editions were published in the late 18th century. (TNB 2/2012) Selected bibliography: Coelen, Peter van der., ed. Everyday Life in Holland’s Golden Age: The Complete Etchings of Adriaen van Ostade. Exhibition catalog. Amsterdam: Rembrandthuis, and Primavera Press, 1998. Giltaij, Jeroen, et al. Senses and Sins: Dutch Painters of Daily Life in the Seventeenth Century. Exhibition catalog. Ostfildern-Ruit, Germany: Hantje Cantz Verlag, 2004. Sutton, Peter C. and Jane Iandola Watkins, et al. Masters of Seventeenth-Century Dutch Genre Painting. Exhibition catalog. Philadelphia: Philadelphia Museum of Art, 1984.