The Mother Seated in an Inn

bega woman and child

Cornelis Bega (1631/2-1664), The Mother Seated in an Inn, etching, circa 1660-64. Reference: Hollstein 31, first state of two. In good condition, trimmed outside of the plate mark top and sides, on the plate mark bottom; 6  1/4 x 4 7/8 inches, archival mounting.

Cornelis Bega was born in Haarlem, the son of Pieter Bega, a wood carver and silversmith, and Maria Cornelis, daughter of the Mannerist painter Cornelis van Haarlem. He is known as a pupil of Adriaen Van Ostade, and of course his work bears a resemblance to Van Ostade’s. He was admitted to the Haarlem artists’ guild in 1654.

A fine early impression, berfore the additional work on the head and hair of the child, and before the removal of the spots on the left leg of the seated man.

Provenance: ex Collection: Thomas Graff (Lugt 1092) with his mark verso; ex. Collection: Dr. Karl Herweg, and with his stamp (Lugt 3974) verso. The Herweg collection was distinguished for its collection of Van Ostade and Bega prints.

In this state the head of the child is unfinished, as is much of the bottom of the print. In a later state additional work was done (on the head of the child, for example), but the print was left substantially unfinished, in outline in the bottom of the composition. This may have been what Bega desired (and of course, as the Unfinished Print exhibit at the Frick Museum in New York recently documented, many great artists through the ages including Rembrandt, whose prints Bega surely knew, sometimes left their prints “unfinished” when they were satisfied with what they had done). Alternatively, Bega may simply have turned to other work (or this may have been his last). But the outline of the bottom of the composition is clearly delineated in this impression.