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Monday 21 November 2016

Adriaen van Ostade’s etching “Painter in His Studio”

Adriaen van Ostade (aka Adriaen Jansz. van Ostade) (1610–85)
“Painter in His Studio” (Le peintre), c.1647 (The BM also proposes an alternate date c.1663)
Etching on laid paper trimmed to the image borderline and retaining the text lines showing the publication details and four lines of Latin.
Size: (sheet) 22.9 x 17 cm

Inscribed below the image borderline: “Pictor Apellieâ pingas licet arte tabellam, / Quae modo pictores, et modo fallit aves, / Livor edax sed enim, nisi te fortuna bearit, / Auferret ingenio praemia digna tuo. / A. v. Ostade fecit.”
(Translation by Oliver Phillips: “Though you a painter, paint a painting with Apelles’ art which now fools painters, and now the birds. Yet, gnawing envy, unless fortune bless you, will take away the prizes worthy of your talents.”)

This print is from the 1670 edition that includes the lines of verse.

The British Museum offers the following description of this print:
“The Painter: an artist sits at his easel before a canvas in his studio; under the stairwell are two assistants or pupils who are grinding colours; light enters the studio through a lead-paned window at left; a lute hangs on the wall and two sculptures are displayed on a shelf.” (

The curator of the British Museum also offers the following information:
“A related painting is in Dredsden [sic.]. Lit.: 'Everyday life in Holland's Golden Age: The Complete Etchings of Adriaen van Ostade', ex. cat. Rembrandthuis, Amsterdam, 1998, no.33. See also A. Griffiths (ed.), 'Landmarks in Print Collecting, Connoisseurs and Donors at the British Museum since 1753', BM, 1996, cat. 29.” (ibid.)

Note: there are actually two paintings by van Ostade bearing a resemblance to this print: one in Amsterdam (1647?) and the other in Dresden dated 1663. The gap of sixteen years between these two paintings may account for the two different dates attributed the execution of this plate. From my research I understand that both paintings celebrated important achievements in van Ostade’s career: in 1647 van Ostade was appointed commissioner to the artists’ guild and in 1662 he was appointed to the position of Dean in Haarlem’s Guild of Saint Luke (see Leslie Scattone 2005, “A Portrait of the Artist, 1525–1825”, p. 132).

Hollstein 32 (Hollstein, F W H, “Dutch and Flemish etchings, engravings and woodcuts c.1450-1700”, Amsterdam, 1949); Bartsch I.367.32 (Bartsch, Adam, "Le Peintre graveur", 21 vols, Vienna, 1803; 1978 edition, vol. 1, p. 346).

Condition: Exceptionally rare, richly inked and crisp impression trimmed to the image borderline and retaining the text lines. The sheet is in excellent condition (i.e. there are no tears, holes, abrasions, stains, folds or foxing).

I am selling this very famous original etching in superb condition by the grand old master, Adriaen van Ostade, for a total cost of AU$582 (currently US$428.51/EUR402.92/GBP345.65 at the time of this listing) including postage and handling to anywhere in the world.
If you are interested in this rare opportunity to own one of history’s iconic images, please contact me ( and I will send you a PayPal invoice to make the payment easy.

This print has been sold

Most folk know this print as it is one of the great iconic images from the 17th century resulting from having been reproduced in most art books—perhaps all?—dealing with artists working in their studios.

Many books and online sources propose that the artist portrayed in the image is in fact a self-portrait by Adriaen van Ostade. Interestingly, this may not be the case. Leslie Scattone in her essay on this etching in “A Portrait of the Artist, 1525–1825” (2005) has a very different view:
“… the print hardly seems autobiographical at all, given that van Ostade was himself a successful and prosperous artist” (p. 131).

Notwithstanding Scattone’s argument that the portrayed studio does not suggest a successful artist, my experience of artists, whether they are acclaimed or quiet hermits shunning fame, is that they seldom—with a few exceptions—choose to live in plush residences designed to impress. Consequently, I have no difficulty in believing that this artist working in his humble studio is indeed van Ostade; a man who paints the rural poor, knows very well how they live and has no problem with having his artistic reputation linked to the common man. But, of course, I may be wrong…

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