Gallery of prints for sale

Saturday 6 May 2017

Cornelis Bega’s etching, “A Young Tavern Keeper Caressed by an Elderly Peasant”, c.1650

Cornelis Bega (aka Cornelis Pietersz Bega) (1631/32–64)
“A Young Tavern Keeper Caressed by an Elderly Peasant”, c.1650

Etching on laid paper trimmed to the image borderline and attached to a support sheet of wove paper.
Size: (sheet) 20 x 16.9 cm
Inscribed with the artist’s name in the lower-left corner (partially obliterated)

TIB 7 (5). 34 (239) (Walter L Strauss and Otto Naumann [Eds.] 1978, “The Illustrated Bartsch”, vol. 7, p. 43); Bartsch V.239.34; Hollstein 34.II

The British Museum offers the following description of this print:
“A young hostess with two men; she stands in the centre whilst a seated man on the right holds her hand and embraces her with his right arm; a second man sits with them, his back to the viewer; on the right a barrel on which rest several items including a bottle and a pipe Etching” (

Condition: a crisp and well-printed impression of this rare print. There is a dot of ink (?) at the upper left corner and the lower right corner. Beyond this issue the sheet is in excellent and clean condition (i.e. there are no tears, holes, folds, abrasions stains, or foxing) trimmed to the image borderline and attached at the right side to a support sheet of buff coloured wove paper.

I am selling this rare print by one of the major Dutch old masters for the total cost of AU$187 (currently US$138.67/EUR126.32/GBP106.89 at the time of posting this listing) including postage and handling to anywhere in the world.
If you are interested in purchasing this important print, please contact me ( and I will send you a PayPal invoice to make the payment easy.

This print has been sold

Although this rustic tavern scene showing inappropriate attention given by elderly gentlemen towards a charming hostess may at first seem far removed from the excesses of Mannerism and the Baroque age in which the print was executed, closer examination, however, reveals a few visual clues linking the print to the exuberance of the period. For example, note the theatrical lighting of the scene which is a stylistic hallmark of the Baroque age. Note also the strong use of diagonals in the composition (e.g. divergent angles of the figures and the cast shadows) to give the scene dynamic tensions and the asymmetrical placement of the window at the upper right designed to compositionally balance the shadow mass on the left.

Beyond what may be tenuous links to the age underpinning Bega’s style, what I find very interesting about Bega is his fascination with textures. For example, compare Bega’s treatment of the wood-grain of the barrel used as a table to his treatment of the hat lying on the floor. If I may make a reckless proposal to push this observation further: Bega’s fascination with mimetic representation of texture is arguably a key attribute separating his approach to portraying the lives of the rural working class to that of Adriaen van Ostade who is reputed to be Bega’s teacher.

(For a more expansive—and more articulate—discussion of the themes and ideas raised here about Bega, I strongly recommend reading Elise Mensing's essay for Knox College, "Cornelis Bega":

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