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Saturday 16 July 2016

Charles Jacque's etching after Adriaen van Ostades, “La Famille”

Charles Jacque (aka Charles Émile Jacque) (1813–94) after Adriaen van Ostade (aka Adriaen Jansz. van Ostade) (1610–85)
“La Famille” (The Family), inscribed with Ostade’s signature by Jacque and the date of Ostade’s original plate (1647), published in Philip Gilbert Hamerton's “Etching & Etchers”, 1868.
Etching on laid paper with the centrefold as published by Hamerton and lettered with “5” beneath the image borderline at lower right.
Size: (sheet) 28.5 x 25.3 cm; (plate) 18.5 x 17.4 cm; (image) 17.2 x 15.3 cm

The British Museum offers the following description of Ostade’s etching that Jacque copied:
“Interior of a peasant cottage, a mother in front of a fire-place and feeding a baby in right foreground, behind her a youth eating at a table and another feeding scraps to a dog, the father slicing some bread or cheese, a ladder leading to a loft at top right, various utensils stored on shelves including large pots and a cleaver on the wall, a child's cot near a doorway and bed in left background, some hams hanging at top right.” (

Condition: richly inked and well-printed impression with centrefold (as published by Hamerton in 1868) in near pristine condition.

I am selling this original etching by Jacque after Ostade (i.e. Jacque has made a copy of Ostade’s print) for the total cost of AU$128 (currently US$96.93/EUR88/GBP74.14 at the time of posting this print) including postage and handling to anywhere in the world.
If you are interested in purchasing a print by one of the Barbizon School’s most famous artists, please contact me ( and I will send you a PayPal invoice to make the payment easy.

Philip Gilbert Hamerton (1834–94), the publisher of this etching in his famous “Etchers and Etchings” (1868 edition), does not offer the usual accolades of his predecessors in finding good things to say about Ostade as the following advice makes clear:

“The poor … are very repulsive in Ostade and Bega — so repulsive that we only endure them for the sake of the accomplished art … let us say that it is not the poverty which repels us, but the insensitiveness of the painter to all that is best amongst the poor: his incapacity to recognise the true refinement of the rare and delicate natures which are disguised in mean apparel, his blindness to that beauty of character and countenance …. It is not to be believed that when Ostade and Bega studied the Dutch peasantry, the whole of the poor population of Holland was lost in bestiality, or that all the nobler feelings of human nature were utterly crushed out of it by the weight of care, like the juice from trodden grapes. And yet their peasants are universally mere animals, incapable of tenderness and thought, capable only of instinctive cares and besotted sensuality. The males pursue the females, the females give suck to their young, and the height of satisfaction is a swinish contentment in the fullness of the belly, and the apathy of the brain” (pp. 265–66).

Even in Hamerton’s assessment of this rather beautiful copy by Charles Jacque—an original etching by Jacque after Ostade rather than a photomechanical reproduction—of Ostade’s famous “La Famille” does he constraint his words:

“The copy by Charles Jacque given in this volume [the 1868 edition of “Etchers and Etching”] is accurate enough to afford a correct idea of the original plate, but it is not quite so delicate, and the reader would do well, when he has the opportunity, to refer to the proof in the British Museum …” (p. 267).

Notwithstanding, Hamerton’s broad view of Ostade’s art practice, Hamerton’s insight regarding Ostade’s composition are riveting to read:

“It is the most perfect work of the master, and quite remarkable for lighting and composition. Ostade's sense of what was necessary to the support of a group, is like the artistic instinct which led the Gothic builders to use buttresses and low chapels round their edifices, and which in nature gives artistic value to the slopes of debris at the feet of mountains. For example, in this etching the composition rises always towards the right, and is buttressed by slopes to the left. See how amply the figure of the man is supported by the boy and the dog, and by the seated woman. This law of diminution to the left is carried out in the most trifling accessories, in the basins above the door, in the spaces between the three cross-pieces nailed to the beams, in the two boards near the ladder, in the openings of the bed and the door. If the woman had advanced her left foot instead of her right, the man behind her would not have been so well supported; and if the little dog had been absent, the buttressing on that side would not have been continued to the ground. The lighting is, of course, intended to give importance to the group; there are admirable reflections and transparencies in the shade” (p. 267–68).

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