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Not currently on display at the V&A

The Itinerant Musician

Oil Painting
ca. 1647 (painted)
Artist/Maker

In the left foreground, an intinerant hurdy-gurdy player has stopped outside a house and is turning the wheel on his instrument for the enjoyment of three little children and their father who have gathered by the door to listen to the music. Adriaen van Ostade was a painter, draughtsman and etcher and probably a pupil (together with Adriaen Brouwer) of Frans Hals in Haarlem.Hals influenced him very little, whereas Brouwer, had a decisive influence on the evolution of van Ostade’s idiosyncratic portrayals of peasant life. Most of van Ostade's paintings are signed and dated, the earliest being Peasants Playing Cards (1633; St Petersburg, Hermitage). CAI.83 is among a number of figure paintings by Adriaen from ca. 1640 which display a broad, sketchy handling that has a certain affinity to that of Frans Hals (e.g. Laughing Peasant, 1646; Rotterdam, Mus. Boymans–van Beuningen, inv. 1642). In these later works the tonality shifts from blue-grey to a warmer green-brown. Adriaen van Ostade’s peasants are mostly shown relishing the small pleasures permitted by their modest existence, the simplicity of peasant life is held up as a model (Vivitur parvo bene: ‘One may live well on little’) or even idealized, in the manner of bucolic poetry. CAI. 83 is dated to ca. 1647 due to its close resemblance to signed and dated etching of the same subject by Adriaen. The painting also shows affinities with van Ostade's Wandering Musician,in the Hermitage, St. Petersburg and A Hurdy-Gurdy Player both dated 1648 (repr. Kusnetzow, no. 20).


object details
Category
Object Type
Materials and Techniques
Oil on oak panel
Brief Description
Oil painting, 'The Itinerant Musician', Adriaen van Ostade, ca. 1647
Physical Description
In the left foreground, an intinerant hurdy-gurdy player has stopped outside a house and is turning the wheel on his instrument for the enjoyment of three little children and their father who have gathered by the door to listen to the music.
Dimensions
  • Estimate height: 36.2cm
  • Estimate width: 33.7cm
Dimensions taken from Catalogue of Foreign Paintings, I. Before 1800, C.M. Kauffmann, Victoria and Albert Museum, London, 1973
Styles
Marks and Inscriptions
'A. v. Ostade' (Signed by the artist, upper right)
Credit line
Bequeathed by Constantine Alexander Ionides
Object history
Perhaps identical with the version described by Smith (Cat. rais., supp. ix, 1842, p. 86) as sold in Paris from an anonymous collection, 1745, for 20,000 assigs; Hugh Ker Cockburne collection; sold Christie's 2 March 1860, lot 84; property of a nobleman, sold Christie's 7 April 1876, lot 99; property of a lady, deceased, sold Christie's, 1 May 1880, lot 101, bought by Constantine Alexander Ionides, for £315; valued in his inventory (private collection) at £300. Bequeathed by Constantine Alexander Ionides, 1900



Historical significance: Painter, draughtsman and etcher, Adriaen van Ostade was probably a pupil (together with Adriaen Brouwer) of Frans Hals in Haarlem. Hals influenced him very little, whereas Brouwer, had a decisive influence on the evolution of van Ostade’s idiosyncratic portrayals of peasant life. Most of van Ostade's paintings are signed and dated, the earliest being Peasants Playing Cards (1633; St Petersburg, Hermitage). CAI.83 is among a number of figure paintings by Adriaen from ca. 1640 which display a broad, sketchy handling that has a certain affinity to that of Frans Hals (e.g. Laughing Peasant, 1646; Rotterdam, Mus. Boymans–van Beuningen, inv. 1642). In these later works the tonality shifts from blue-grey to a warmer green-brown. Adriaen van Ostade’s peasants are mostly shown relishing the small pleasures permitted by their modest existence, the simplicity of peasant life is held up as a model (Vivitur parvo bene: ‘One may live well on little’) or even idealized, in the manner of bucolic poetry. CAI. 83 is dated to ca. 1647 due to its close resemblance to signed and dated etching of the same subject by Adriaen. The painting also shows affinities with van Ostade's Wandering Musician,in the Hermitage, St. Petersburg and A Hurdy-Gurdy Player both dated 1648 (repr. Kusnetzow, no. 20).
Historical context
This work is typical of Genre Painting, a style which represented the lower or peasant classes of society, became increasingly popular throughout the 17th century in the Netherlands. These pictures usually depict scenes of everyday life, set in domestic interiors or in the open countryside. Some bear metaphorical meaning or implied messages, but others may just be intended as representations of daily events. In both cases they are associated with health, pleasure and liberty. The leading figures of the Haarlem school in this field were Adriaen Brouwer (1606-1638) and Adriaen van Ostade (1610-1685).

The hurdy-gurdy, invented prior to the 11th century, is a stringed musical instrument in which the strings are sounded by means of a rosined wheel which the strings of the instrument pass over. This wheel, turned with a crank, functions much like a violin bow, making the instrument essentially a mechanical violin. Melodies are played on a keyboard that presses tangents (small wedges, usually made of wood) against one or more of these strings to change their pitch. Like most other acoustic string instruments, it has a soundboard to make the vibration of the strings audible
Production
The figure of the musician is very closely related to an etching by Ostade dated 1647 (D. Rovinski and N. Tchetchouline, L'oeuvre gravé d'Adrien van Ostade, 1912, no. 8, repr.) suggesting that this painting dates to around the same period.
Subjects depicted
Summary
In the left foreground, an intinerant hurdy-gurdy player has stopped outside a house and is turning the wheel on his instrument for the enjoyment of three little children and their father who have gathered by the door to listen to the music. Adriaen van Ostade was a painter, draughtsman and etcher and probably a pupil (together with Adriaen Brouwer) of Frans Hals in Haarlem.Hals influenced him very little, whereas Brouwer, had a decisive influence on the evolution of van Ostade’s idiosyncratic portrayals of peasant life. Most of van Ostade's paintings are signed and dated, the earliest being Peasants Playing Cards (1633; St Petersburg, Hermitage). CAI.83 is among a number of figure paintings by Adriaen from ca. 1640 which display a broad, sketchy handling that has a certain affinity to that of Frans Hals (e.g. Laughing Peasant, 1646; Rotterdam, Mus. Boymans–van Beuningen, inv. 1642). In these later works the tonality shifts from blue-grey to a warmer green-brown. Adriaen van Ostade’s peasants are mostly shown relishing the small pleasures permitted by their modest existence, the simplicity of peasant life is held up as a model (Vivitur parvo bene: ‘One may live well on little’) or even idealized, in the manner of bucolic poetry. CAI. 83 is dated to ca. 1647 due to its close resemblance to signed and dated etching of the same subject by Adriaen. The painting also shows affinities with van Ostade's Wandering Musician,in the Hermitage, St. Petersburg and A Hurdy-Gurdy Player both dated 1648 (repr. Kusnetzow, no. 20).
Bibliographic References
  • Kauffmann, C.M. Catalogue of Foreign Paintings, I. Before 1800. London: Victoria and Albert Museum, 1973, p. 208, cat. no. 259
  • John Smith, A catalogue raisonné of the works of the most eminent Dutch, Flemish, and French painters 9 vols.( London : Smith and Son, 1829-42), Supp. ix. p. 86
  • E. Trautscholdt: ‘Notes on Adriaen van Ostade’, The Burlington Magazine, liv (1929), pp. 74–80.
  • C. Hofstede de Groot, A catalogue raisonné of the works of the most eminent Dutch painters of the seventeeth century 8 vols. (London : Macmillan, 1907-1927), vol. iii, 1910, no. 436.
  • Basil S. Long, Catalogue of the Constantine Alexander Ionides collection.Vol. 1, Paintings in oil, tempera and water-colour, together with certain of the drawings. (London : Printed under the authority of the Board of Education, 1925), p. 46.
Collection
Accession Number
CAI.83

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record createdFebruary 14, 2007
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