The Fiddler thumbnail 1
The Fiddler thumbnail 2
Image of Gallery in South Kensington
On display at V&A South Kensington
Request to view at the Prints & Drawings Study Room, level F , Case BECK, Shelf 2, Box 19

The Fiddler

Oil Painting
1636 (painted)
Artist/Maker
Place Of Origin

A fiddler wearing a tall hat and rags plays his instrument to a captive audience of peasants young and old in a dark interior, illuminiated by a beam of light entering through the door at left. 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. 1367-1869 is among a number van Ostade's domestic scenes in which figures and space blend in an atmospheric treatment of light. The blue-grey tonality is characteristic of Adriaen's earlier works which later shift to a palette of warmer green-browns. The surface of 1367-1869 is quite damaged but a sense of the original mood and of the appearance of the little girl at centre is suggested by a another painting of an itinerant musician attributed to van Ostade and dated 1655 (repr. Hofstede de Groot, no. 440) and is comparable in format and subject matter to Fiddler at the door of a house in the Fitzwilliam Museum of 1639. 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.


object details
Category
Object Type
Materials and Techniques
Oil on oak panel
Brief Description
Oil painting entitled 'The Fiddler' by Adriaen van Ostade. Dutch School, 1636.
Physical Description
A fiddler wearing a tall hat and rags plays his instrument to a captive audience of peasants young and old in a dark interior, illuminiated by a beam of light entering through the door at left.
Dimensions
  • Estimate height: 14.6cm
  • Estimate width: 11.1cm
Dimensions taken from Catalogue of Foreign Paintings, I. Before 1800, C.M. Kauffmann, Victoria and Albert Museum, London, 1973
Styles
Marks and Inscriptions
'AV [monogram] Ostade 16 (36?)' (Signed and dated by the artist)
Credit line
Bequeathed by Rev. Chauncey Hare Townshend
Object history
Bequeathed by Rev. Chauncy Hare Townshend, 1868

[Chauncy Hare Townshend]

Ref : Parkinson, Ronald, Catalogue of British Oil Paintings 1820-1860. Victoria & Albert Museum, HMSO, London, 1990. p.xix.



'Chauncy Hare Townshend (1798-1868) was born into a wealthy family, only son of Henry Hare Townsend of Busbridge Hall, Godalming, Surrey. Educated at Eton and Trinity Hall, Cambridge (BA 1821). Succeeded to the family estates 1827, when he added 'h' to the Townsend name. He had taken holy orders, but while he always referred to himself as 'Rev.' on the title pages of his books, he never practised his vocation... . Very much a dilettante in the eighteenth-century sense, he moved in the highest social and literary circles; a great friend of Charles Dickens (he was the dedicatee of Great Expectations) with whom he shared a fascination of mesmerism... Bulwer Lytton described his life's 'Beau-deal of happiness' as 'elegant rest, travel, lots of money - and he is always ill and melancholy'. Of the many watercolours and British and continental oil paintings he bequeathed to the V&A, the majority are landscapes. He is the first identifiable British collector of early photographs apart from the Prince Consort, particularly landscape photography, and also collected gems and geological specimens.'



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. 1367-1869 is among a number van Ostade's domestic scenes (e.g. Peasant Interior, before 1633, ex-P. de Boer priv. col., Amsterdam, and Village Alehouse with Four Figures, 1635, Salzburg, Residenzgal., hdg 584) in which figures and space blend in an atmospheric treatment of light. The blue-grey tonality is characteristic of Adriaen's earlier works which later shift to a palette of warmer green-browns. The surface of 1367-1869 is quite damaged but a sense of the original mood and of the appearance of the little girl at centre is suggested by a another painting of an itinerant musician attributed to van Ostade and dated 1655 (repr. Hofstede de Groot, no. 440) and is comparable in format and subject matter to Fiddler at the door of a house in the Fitzwilliam Museum of 1639. 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.
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).
Production
This picture has always been known as Adriaen van Ostade (1893 Catalogue, p. 183) but was at some point made into a rectangular shape and heavily overpainted. At that time, it was hardly recognizable as a genuine work and was omitted from Hofstede de Groot's list of Ostade's paintings (iii, 1910) but was restored to the artist when the signature and date were revealed during cleaning in 1960.
Subjects depicted
Summary
A fiddler wearing a tall hat and rags plays his instrument to a captive audience of peasants young and old in a dark interior, illuminiated by a beam of light entering through the door at left. 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. 1367-1869 is among a number van Ostade's domestic scenes in which figures and space blend in an atmospheric treatment of light. The blue-grey tonality is characteristic of Adriaen's earlier works which later shift to a palette of warmer green-browns. The surface of 1367-1869 is quite damaged but a sense of the original mood and of the appearance of the little girl at centre is suggested by a another painting of an itinerant musician attributed to van Ostade and dated 1655 (repr. Hofstede de Groot, no. 440) and is comparable in format and subject matter to Fiddler at the door of a house in the Fitzwilliam Museum of 1639. 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.
Bibliographic Reference
Kauffmann, C.M. Catalogue of Foreign Paintings, I. Before 1800. London: Victoria and Albert Museum, 1973, pp. 207-208 cat. no. 258.
Collection
Accession Number
1367-1869

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record createdApril 24, 2007
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