Adriaen van Ostade, The Painter, an etching

The Netherlands, around AD 1663 (state IV)

A painter at work in a humble studio

Adriaen van Ostade (1610-85) is best known for his low-life paintings of taverns and peasant festivities, which ultimately derive from Pieter Bruegel the Elder, and German printmakers of the sixteenth-century. His fifty etchings earned him a reputation as a printmaker second only to Rembrandt among his Dutch contemporaries.

However, a comparison with Rembrandt's etching of The Artist Drawing from the Model shows how much their interests differed. Van Ostade concentrates on the untidy clutter of a poor artist's studio. The window throws an oval pool of light into the centre of the composition, which is brought round and back by the spiral staircase. Three of the four corners are lost in darkness, a device possibly learned from Rembrandt. The painter sits in sharp profile, one leg steadying his easel, a necessary precaution since he rests his painting hand against a mahlstick, which in turn leans against his canvas. He seems to be referring to an open book propped up on a stool. Two young apprentices grind his colours under the stairs.

Unlike the artist in this etching, van Ostade became prosperous from the sale of his prints and some 800 paintings. The wide margin below the image later carried an inscription comparing him to Apelles, the famous artist of antiquity.

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More information


A. Griffiths (ed.), Landmarks in print collecting (London, The British Museum Press)


Height: 238.000 mm
Width: 181.000 mm

Museum number

PD S. 1486 (Hollstein 32)



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