Adriaen van Ostade
1610 – Haarlem – 1685
A Pair. A Peasant Singing and A Peasant Woman with a Recorder
Oil on panel (roundels) 12.5 (diameter) cm
The man signed and dated right centre: AV OSTA[damaged] / 1637 [AV connected]
The woman signed and dated right centre: Av oƒtade / 1637
Sale London (Sotheby’s), 27 April 2016, lot 818 (as circle of Adriaen van Ostade)
Sale London (Bonhams), 2 November 2016, lot 29 (as circle of Adriaen van Ostade)
These two hitherto unpublished tondi by Van Ostade are a significant addition to the master’s oeuvre. Dated 1637, they are early work and still strongly reminiscent of Adriaen Brouwer, who may have been his teacher. Many such loosely painted tronies by Ostade have been preserved. A pair, dated 1642, is in Rotterdam, Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen (inv. 1635-36). The present pair of roundels appears to be the earliest dated known example of such character heads.
Van Ostade hints in these small works at the tulip mania which held the Republic firmly in its grip in the year the artist executed these panels. The title of the song on the sheet the peasant is holding reads: ‘eniew liedeken [a new song] / ... / FLORISTEN OFT [florists or] / ...’. In the aftermath of the Tulip crash of 1637, which began in Ostade’s hometown Haarlem, songs began to appear mockingly accusing botanists of the misery they had caused when due to speculation with tulip bulbs so many people had lost fortunes.
Ostade was the fifth child born to the weaver Jan Hendricx van Eyndhoven and Janneke Hendriksdr. According to his biographer Arnold Houbraken, Ostade was a pupil of Frans Hals at the same time as Brouwer. Hals, however, at any rate does not seem to have exerted noticeable influence on Ostade. Brouwer on the other hand, having quickly developed as the heir of Bruegelian peasant art, became pivotal. By the early 1630s, Ostade had already established a reputation of his own outside his native Haarlem, having registered with the Haarlem guild of St. Luke in 1634. In 1636 he was a member of the militia company Oude Schuts. Two years later he married the catholic Machteltje Pietersdr of Haarlem. The artist is next mentioned in Haarlem records from 1640, when Salomon van Ruysdael sued him for default in payment of fourteen guilders for tuition and board. In 1642, Ostade and his wife drew up a will. She died the same year upon which the artist remarried in 1657 with Anna Ingels, also a catholic and from a wealthy family. In 1666, Ostade’s second wife died leaving the painter a substantial inheritance. His oeuvre, yet to be catalogued and studied in depth, consists of a large body of hundreds of paintings, about fifty etchings and about four hundred drawings and over 50 watercolours. Among his many talented pupils were his brother Isack, Cornelis Dusart, Cornelis Bega, Michiel van Musscher and Jan Steen.