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The Breakfast

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The Breakfast

circa 1664
17th century
22.7 cm x 27 cm (8 15/16 in. x 10 5/8 in.)

Adriaen van Ostade (Haarlem, The Netherlands, 1610 - 1685, Haarlem, The Netherlands ) Primary

Object Type: print
Artist Nationality: Europe, Dutch
Medium and Support: Etching
Credit Line: Blanton Museum of Art, The University of Texas at Austin, The Leo Steinberg Collection, 2002
Accession Number: 2002.2422

Adriaen van Ostade was Holland’s foremost artist of village life and its finest etcher after Rembrandt. In a Netherlandish tradition going back to Pieter Brueghel, his paintings show peasants in rural settings engaged in daily activities. The larger, more elaborate plates are variations on his own painted compositions. Most, inspired by Rembrandt, are smaller, briefer sketches of rustic types and their interactions. Fifty in all, they are characterized by very careful drawing, painstaking development of texture and color through successive biting, and sympathetic observation. The collection counts eighteen, half in rare, early impressions.
The Breakfast is one of Ostade’s largest and most painterly etchings. It renders the interior of a farmhouse with an assortment of types enjoying drink. However modest and cluttered the setting, the composition is definite in structure and subtle in balance. Similarly, the characters may be coarse in appearance and boisterous in gesture, but they are afforded kindness and dignity. Light reinforces the scene’s coherence, adds further expressive warmth, and even imparts a sacramental sense. Ostade’s etchings were tremendously successful. That their audience was urban and highly educated, with notions of a simpler time and place, is emphasized by the Latin inscription from the Roman poet Tibullus: “We spend time for an untroubled table—After a lengthy wait, a fair day comes.”

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