The Pig Killers

van ostade pig killers

Adriaen Von Ostade (1610-1685) etching, circa 1647(Godefry 41, Bartsch 41), 6th state (of 8). [signed in the plate] In very good condition, with (small) margins all around, archival matting. 118 x 116 mm (4 5/8 x 4 1/2 inches)

A fine, bright and clear impression, with traces of inky plate edges and wiping scratches still printing outside of the image.

The Pig Killers is the first of Ostade’s complex compositions, made when he was in his late 30’s. It portrays the entire farm family in this celebratory ritual: the head of the family oversees the operation (at the left), the farmhand kneels on the just slaughtered pig while the farmer’s wife collects the blood in a ladle; the eldest son holds a candle lighting up the scene while two other children – perhaps understandably – are less focused on what’s going on.

Night scenes such as this were popular with Van Ostade and his contemporaries (most notably, Rembrandt). Van Ostade’s work at this time sometimes resembles that of Rembrandt, although Van Ostade’s teacher was Frans Hals, and Van Ostade worked and lived in Haarlem his whole life (but of course Rembrandt’s etchings were known to him, and the tradition of night scenes in 17th Century Dutch etching precedes both Van Ostade and Rembrandt).