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Oil painting - The Itinerant Musician
  • The Itinerant Musician
    Ostade, Adriaen van, born 1610 - died 1685
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The Itinerant Musician

  • Object:

    Oil painting

  • Date:

    ca. 1647 (painted)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Ostade, Adriaen van, born 1610 - died 1685 (painter (artist))

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Oil on oak panel

  • Credit Line:

    Bequeathed by Constantine Alexander Ionides

  • Museum number:

    CAI.83

  • Gallery location:

    In Storage

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).

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.

Date

ca. 1647 (painted)

Artist/maker

Ostade, Adriaen van, born 1610 - died 1685 (painter (artist))

Materials and Techniques

Oil on oak panel

Marks and inscriptions

'A. v. Ostade'
Signed by the artist, upper right

Dimensions

Height: 36.2 cm estimate, Width: 33.7 cm estimate

Object history note

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 note

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

Descriptive line

Oil painting, 'The Itinerant Musician', Adriaen van Ostade, ca. 1647

Bibliographic References (Citation, Note/Abstract, NAL no)

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.

Production Note

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.

Materials

Oil paint; Oak

Techniques

Oil painting

Subjects depicted

Children; Hurdy-gurdies; Man; Musician

Categories

Paintings

Collection

Prints, Drawings & Paintings Collection

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