Overview

In Dutch society, inns were not only the hubs of social life and the temporary home of travelers, but they also served as meeting halls for merchants, notaries, and artisan guilds. Tavern drinkers and idlers frequently appear in Dutch genre scenes, but Isack van Ostade’s depiction of workers restocking an inn is very unusual. Under the watchful eye of the innkeeper, two laborers use a yoke to haul barrels of beer or wine off a sledge; their overworked, scrawny horse bears the scars of a hard existence. A small boy brings a jug of ale up from the cellar, a woman sells her wares under a canopy, and a lame man hobbles toward the taproom. Above the doorway, the two barrel staves with the grapevine and the pitcher signal to all travelers that they are approaching an inn. On the chimney, two storks—traditional emblems of voyagers—rest in their nest.

Isack van Ostade was the most important of a number of Haarlem artists who painted rural life in the early seventeenth century, and the area outside a tavern became one of his favorite subjects, as it gave him the chance to combine his skills as a landscapist and a genre painter. A student of his more famous older brother Adriaen van Ostade (1610–1685), Isack died at the young age of twenty-eight. Despite his short artistic career, he had a significant influence on his contemporaries, including Jan Steen (1625/1626–1679), with whom he occasionally collaborated.

Inscription

lower right: Isack van Ostade / 1645

Marks and Labels

null

Provenance

Van Tol collection; (sale, Souterwoude [near Leiden], 15 June 1779, no. 13);[1] Wubbels. Jean Etienne Fiseau (variously spelled Fiseau, Fezeau, or Fiziau), Amsterdam; his widow, Mme Jean Etienne Fiseau [née Marie Anne Massé, d. 1790]; (her estate sale, by Philippe van der Schley et al., Amsterdam, 30-31 August 1797, no. 165); (Jan de Bosch, Jeronimusz, Amsterdam). Guillaume-Joseph, baron de Brienen van de Grootelindt [d. 1839], Amsterdam, by 1842; by inheritance to his son, Arnold-Willem, baron de Brienen van de Grootelindt [d. 1854]; by inheritance to his son, Guillaume-Thierry-Arnaud [or Arnold or Armand]-Marie, baron de Brienen van de Grootelindt [d. 1863], Amsterdam;[2] (his estate sale, Hôtel Drouot, Paris, 8-9 May 1865, no. 23); (Nieuwenhuys).[3] Marquis H. de V., Paris;[4] (his sale, Christie, Manson & Woods, London, 5-6 June 1871, 2nd day, no. 218); Comte Henri Greffulhe [1848-1932], Paris; (his estate sale, Sotheby & Co., London, 22 July 1937, no. 74); (Roland & Delbanco, London); sold 1939 to Adolf Mayer, The Hague. (Edward Speelman, London). private collection, England. (Duits Gallery, London); sold 1968 to (Christian Humann, Paris and New York); sold 1973 to Dr. Claus Virch, Paris; sold July 1977 to (Brod Gallery, London);[5] purchased by Richard A. and Lee G. Kirstein, Washington, D.C.; gift 1991 to NGA.

Exhibition History

1948
A Loan Exhibition of Dutch and Flemish Painting: The Collection of the Late Adolf Mayer, Allen Memorial Art Museum, Oberlin, Ohio, 1948, no. 9.
1968
Loan to display with permanent collection, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, 1968-1973.
1977
Old Master Paintings: Exhibition of Recent Acquisitions, Brod Gallery, London, 1977, no. 20.
1991
Art for the Nation: Gifts in Honor of the 50th Anniversary of the National Gallery of Art, National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C. 1991, 72-73, color repro.
1997
Rembrandt and the Golden Age: Dutch Paintings from the National Gallery of Art, The Chrysler Museum of Art, Norfolk, 1997, unnumbered brochure, repro.

Bibliography

1829
Smith, John. A Catalogue Raisonné of the Works of the Most Eminent Dutch, Flemish and French Painters. 9 vols. London, 1829-1842: 9(1842):132-133, no. 32.
1877
Gueullette, Charles. "La Collection de M. H. de Greffulhe." Gazette des Beaux-Arts 15 (1877): 159-160.
1907
Hofstede de Groot, Cornelis. A Catalogue Raisonné of the Works of the Most Eminent Dutch Painters of the Seventeenth Century. 8 vols. Translated by Edward G. Hawke. London, 1907-1927: 3(1910):466, no. 96.
1948
Allen Memorial Art Museum. "A Loan Exhibition of Dutch and Flemish Paintings: The collection of the late Adolf Mayer." Bulletin of the Allen Memorial Art Museum 5 (1948): 8-9, no. 9, repro. on cover.
1977
Jan van Goyen, 1596-1656: Poet of the Dutch Landscape. Exh. cat. Alan Jacobs Gallery, London, 1977: no. 20.
1991
National Gallery of Art. Art for the Nation: Gifts in Honor of the 50th Anniversary of the National Gallery of Art. Exh. cat. National Gallery of Art, Washington, 1991: 72-73, color repro.
1995
Wheelock, Arthur K., Jr. Dutch Paintings of the Seventeenth Century. The Collections of the National Gallery of Art Systematic Catalogue. Washington, 1995: 194-197, color repro. 195.
1997
Chrysler Museum of Art. Rembrandt and the Golden Age: Dutch paintings from the National Gallery of Art. Exhibition brochure. Chrysler Museum of Art, Norfolk. Washington, 1997: unnumbered repro.
1999
Oud, Ingrid, and Leonoor van Oosterzee. Nederlandse tekenaars geboren tussen 1660 en 1745. Oude tekeningen in het bezit van het Amsterdams Historisch Museum, waaronder de collectie Fodor 5. Edited by Hinke J. Wiggers. Zwolle, 1999: 120, fig. a.

Conservation Notes

The painting is on a single-board panel with a vertical grain. The original chisel marks are visible on the back. The ground is a smooth, light brown layer of medium thickness. It is allowed to show through the thinly applied paint layers. In the sky the paint was applied more thickly, with low impasto and strong brushwork.

The painting is in very good condition, although small, scattered losses are visible in ultraviolet light. Minor pentimenti in the large tree in the center of the painting and the dogs in the foreground are visible to the naked eye. The painting has not been treated since acquisition.

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