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Arts of Europe

The MFAH collections of art created on the European continent encompass artistic styles across the time line of history, from the ancient world to the Middle Ages, and the Early Modern era to the 21st century.

Netherlandish, 1610 - 1685
Drinking Figures and Crying Children
Oil on panel

12 1/4 x 16 7/8 inches

Sarah Campbell Blaffer Foundation, Houston
Arts of Europe

This raucous peasant scene appeals to multiple senses: one can almost hear the boisterous laughing and yelling, smell the pipe smoke, and feel the warmth of the fire.

Over the course of his long career, Dutch artist Adriaen van Ostade frequently depicted peasant scenes in paintings and etchings. In this early work, Van Ostade portrayed the rowdier side of peasant behavior, an effect heightened by the unsteadiness of both the figures and the architecture. A young boy beats a girl with a spoon amid a group of reveling adults at right, and two people at left tend to the fire. The refined pinks and blues contrast with the brown tones and, along with the dramatic use of light, intensify the crudeness of the scene. Van Ostade's later works tend to present peasants behaving in a more proper fashion.