Bust of a Laughing Peasant

vanostadepeasantG1Adriaen Van Ostade (1610-1685), Bust of a Laughing Peasant, c. 1647. References: Bartsch 1, Godefry 1. Second state (of 4), before the monogram inscription to the right of the man’s chin and the borderline were added. In very good condition (remains of prior hinging verso), trimmed with a filet of paper outside of the platemark, 1 5/16 x 1 5/32 inches, archival window mat.

A fine strong impression.

Godefry indicates that impressions from this state were included in the later Picart edition, but there is evidence that impressions of this state were also taken before the Picart edition; this impression (highly magnified in the above illustration)  appears sufficiently fine to suggest that it is a lifetime impression.

Impressions of the first state of this print are quite rare; in fact the distinguished S.W. Pelletier collection’s earliest impression was of the second state (he also had a third state).

Godefry dates this to 1636, but subsequent authorities have concluded that this work is far too mature to date that early, and suggest a later date (Schnackenburg 1647-52; Slatkes 1650-52).

Although tiny, the etching is very detailed and expressive; this is apparently an older man, and its companion print (Bartsch 2), an older woman, are sometimes seen in copies printed in pendant fashion facing one another, consistent with a northern tradition showing pairs of heads in relationship to each other. Copies of these etchings were used in a 1716 Haarlem songbook in which the two peasants talked about old age, and eventually focused on the frailty of the human condition.