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Tuesday 12 December 2017

Adriaen van Ostade’s etching, “Slaughter of a Pig”, c1652

Adriaen van Ostade (aka Adriaen Jansz. van Ostade) (1610–1685)

“Slaughter of a Pig” TIB title (aka “Le Charcutier” Bartsch Title), c1652

Etching on 18th century laid paper trimmed along the platemark and lined onto washi paper inlaid into archival wove paper.
Size: (re-margined sheet) 31.1 x 29.7 cm; (plate) 11.7 x 11.7 cm; (diameter of circular image borderline) 11.3 cm
Signed on plate at lower left within the circular image: “AV. ostade”
State vi (of viii) before the addition of the seven “short, horizontal strokes on the lower left of the pole on the left side of the composition”, signifying the seventh state, and the horizontal strokes covering the whole pole, signifying the eighth and final state (see Leonard J Slatkes et al., 1994, “Adriaen van Ostade: Etchings of Peasant Life in Holland’s Golden Age”, exh. cat., Georgia Museum of Art, p. 204; see also an example of the eight state at the British Museum, no. 1980,U.1680).

TIB 1.41-III (373) (Walter L Strauss & Leonard J Slatkes [eds.] 1978, “The Illustrated Bartsch: Netherlandish Artists”, vol.1, p. 352); Hollstein 41; Bartsch I.373.41; Godefroy 41; Boon-Verbeek 41; Davidsohn 41

The British Museum offers the following description of this print:
“The Pigkillers. Night scene with a group of peasants standing at centre, and watching a pig being slaughtered by a man who kneels on its flank, a woman holding a pan ready to receive the entrails; in a circle.” (

Condition: well-inked, crisp and well-printed impression in excellent condition within the circular image borderline, but with significant abrasions and restored losses in the square margin area. The sheet has been laid upon a washi paper support sheet and re-margined with the washi paper support sheet having been laminated over a cradle of archival quality wove paper.

I am selling this crisp and luminous impression with strong tonal contrast for AU$360 (currently US$272.62/EUR231.49/GBP204.05 at the time of this listing) including postage and handling to anywhere in the world.

If you are interested in purchasing this graphically strong image, please contact me ( and I will send you a PayPal invoice to make the payment easy.

This print has been sold

This image of a peasant family killing a pig in the evening may seem horribly gruesome and confronting to contemporary eyes—at least to my delicate eyes unaccustomed to seeing such a scene. Nevertheless, to early Netherlandish viewers acculturated to such an everyday rural activity, the slaughter may have been perceived not as a backyard bloodbath as I see it, but as a celebration of and/or anticipation of the annual holiday of Slachtmaand (the slaughtering month)—November. In fact, I understand from reading Leonard J Slatkes et al., 1994, “Adriaen van Ostade: Etchings of Peasant Life in Holland’s Golden Age”, exh. cat., Georgia Museum of Art (p. 205) that the subject was not simply a scene of slaughter by candlelight. Instead, it expresses the dual notions of prudentia (prudence) and vanitas (life’s brevity), as expressed by other printmakers who also depicted this scene, such as Rembrandt and Pieter Breugel the Elder.

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