Reflections of the Dutch Golden Age: Etchings by Adriaen van Ostade from the Vanderbilt University Fine Arts Gallery Collection

Adriaen van Ostade
Dutch (1610–1685)
The Cobbler, 1671
Etching
7-1/8" x 5-15/16"
Peabody College Collection, Vanderbilt University Fine Arts Gallery
1979.0860P

March 15–May 11, 2012

After Rembrandt, Adriaen van Ostade was the major Dutch etcher of the seventeenth century. According to Arnold Houbraken’s biography from the period, Ostade studied concurrently with Adriaen Brouwer and Frans Hals in Haarlem. Hals influenced Ostade very little, whereas Brouwer, who was described as “known far and wide” as early as 1627, had a decisive influence on the evolution of Ostade’s portrayal of peasant life. Many seventeenth-century Dutch artists developed specialties to help them gain an edge in the highly competitive contemporary art market. Some artists, for instance, focused exclusively on the representations of landscapes, still-lifes, or animal subjects. Ostade was one of a number of artists who specialized in genre themes—scenes drawn from daily life, rather than from religious, mythological, or literary sources. Ostade’s work deals primarily with peasant life, a topic explored in the previous century by Pieter Bruegel the Elder. Of the fifty known etchings by Ostade, Vanderbilt holds thirty-four as part of our collection of Dutch prints that numbers more than 100 works. Several included in this exhibition are early states of individual prints illustrating the artist’s working methods. The etchings in the exhibition are representative of Ostade’s range of subjects: images of rural tradesmen, parents with their children, village fairs, itinerant peddlers, and quack doctors.

Reflections of the Dutch Golden Age: Etchings by Adriaen van Ostade from the Vanderbilt University Fine Arts Gallery is organized by the Vanderbilt University Fine Arts Gallery and curated by Joseph S. Mella, director.