Gallery of prints for sale

Friday 13 April 2018

Adriaen van Ostade’s etching, “Peasant with his hands behind his back”, c1647

Adriaen van Ostade (1610–1685)

“Peasant with his hands behind his back” (TIB title) (aka “Standing farmer with his hands behind his back” or “The beggar with hands behind his back” [Rijksmusuem titles]), c1647

Etching with light plate tone on laid paper trimmed to the image borderline with a fillet of paper outside the borderline. The print is backed with a support sheet.
Size: (sheet) 8.7 x 6.3 cm
Inscribed on plate with the artist’s monogram: (lower left) "AvO"
State iv (of vi) with the additional strokes on the back of the neck.

TIB 1 (1). 21.II (361) (Leonard J Slatkes [ed.] 1978, “The Illustrated Bartsch: Netherlandish Artists”, vol. 1, Abaris Books, New York, p. 338); Hollstein 21.II; Bartsch I.361.21; Davidsohn 21; Godefroy 21; Boon-Verbeek 21

The British Museum offers the following description of this print:
“Peasant with his hands behind his back; full-length, turned slightly to right”

See also the description offered by the Rijksmuseum:

See also: “Everyday life in Holland's Golden Age: The Complete Etchings of Adriaen van Ostade”, ex. cat. Rembrandthuis, Amsterdam, 1998, no.21.

Condition: crisp, well-inked and well-printed impression showing some wear to the plate in excellent condition (i.e. there are no tears, holes, folds, abrasions, stains or foxing). The sheet is trimmed to the image borderline and laid onto a support sheet of archival (millennium quality) washi paper.

I am selling this famous etching of single figure full of life and spirit from Ostade’s middle period for AU$236 in total (currently US$184.20/EUR149.50/GBP129.20 at the time of posting this listing) including postage and handling to anywhere in the world.

If you are interested in purchasing this small but visually engaging etching from one of the truly great masters of the 17th century, please contact me ( and I will send you a PayPal invoice to make the payment easy.

This print has been sold

Interestingly, the apron and vest that this rather kindly looking man wears suggests that he is unlikely to be any of the occupations that the three formal titles for this print propose; viz., peasant, farmer or beggar. Indeed, as Leonard J Slatkes et al. (1994) in “Adriaen van Ostade: Etchings of Peasant Life in Holland’s Golden Age” (exh. cat., Georgia Museum of Art) insightfully suggests “perhaps he is a village shopkeeper or even an artisan” (p. 120). After all, there are a number of other prints by Ostade featuring men in aprons attesting to Slatkes’ proposals for the man’s occupation.

Regarding Ostade’s choice to portray a single figure without a surrounding context, Slatkes et al. (1994) makes the point that “it seems likely that Rembrandt’s various single-figure etchings of country folk, beggars, and other plebeian types may have inspired Ostade to produce single-figure print such as this one” (ibid).

Note: I have discussed another impression of this same print (now sold) in the essay: “Saints & Sinners: Why do saints face towards the left?” (

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