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Work Bleeding the PIg

Department of Prints and Drawings: 17th century

La saignée du porc

RMN-Grand Palais - Photo T. Querrec

Prints and Drawings
17th century

Maget Antoinette

The creator of this peasant scene was one of the great Dutch draftsmen of the 17th century; apart from Rembrandt, few artists made as great a mark on the golden age of Dutch genre painting as van Ostade, through the diversity, quality and quantity of his works. This drawing is a preparatory work for a watercolor now at the Fodor Museum in Amsterdam; it differs in its brisk agility, as compared to the more detailed and conscientious execution of the final work.

Before the winter

The scene shown here is populated with typical van Ostade characters, the squat figures, the children seemingly wizened with age, the somewhat inharmonious bodies. Three men attend to the task, surrounded by curious young onlookers, as a woman emerges from an open door on the left. This black chalk sketch with its touches of pen and ink gives an idea of van Ostade's great mastery of chiaroscuro, the areas of gray wash making for an optimal distribution of light and dark. Each detail testifies to the artist's acute sense of observation: the ladder against the wall and the barrel and basket in the foreground on the right all give a convincing air to this picture of village life.

The rewards of fame

Adriaen van Ostade was a pupil of Frans Hals, but was much more influenced by his contact with Adriaen Brouwer, whose genre of peasant paintings he continued. A member of the Haarlem guild from 1634, he became its head in 1674. His work has often been compared to Rembrandt, whose chiaroscuro was an important influence, notably in his engravings, where the great master's lessons can be seen in both technique and style. During the last twenty years of his life, van Ostade would make paintings for direct sale, one of the rare Dutch masters to engage in this lucrative trade. Nonetheless, and despite the wide circulation of his works in engravings, van Ostade's art did not have a great influence on Dutch 17th-century painting. It was, however, greatly sought after, and many imitations were produced: these copies and forgeries would deceive many enthusiastic 18th- and 19th-century collectors.

Watercolors and drawings

The works of 1670 to 1680 are like little paintings; meticulous in the drawing and the application of watercolor, clearly distinct from the earlier work, in which the artist's broad and vigorous gesture is given uninhibited expression. Van Ostade was a draftsman of great delicacy, as is witnessed by his studies. Yet it was his genre scenes in watercolor that won him renown among the art-lovers of his day. Throughout his career, the artist varied his techniques without changing his subjects, his style evolving as he moved from the disorderly representation of activity and motion to calmer compositions devoted to domestic scenes.


F. Lugt, Inventaire général des Dessins des Écoles du Nord, École hollandaise, Paris : Éditions Albert Morancé, 1929, Tome II, n 506, pp. 2-4, pl. VI.
R. Bacou, Dessins du Louvre - Écoles allemande, flamande, hollandaise, Paris, 1968, n 90.
A. Serullaz, in cat. exp. Rembrandt et son temps - Dessins des collections publiques et privées en France, Paris, Musée du Louvre, 1970, n 112, p. 50.
J. Mallet, "The etchings of Adriaen van Ostade (1610-1685)", in Le Connaisseur, février 1924, pp. 95-98.
Le monde paysan d'Adriaen et Isack van Ostade - Dessins, Aquarelles et Eaux-Fortes de la Fondation Custodia - Collection Frits Lugt, Paris, Institut Néerlandais, 1981.

Technical description

  • Adriaen van OstadeHaarlem, 1610-1685

    Bleeding the PIg

    After 1670

    W. Esdaile Collection, purchased 1834; sale, London, June 18-25, 1840, lot no. 845; His de la Salle Collection

  • Pen and brown ink and gray wash over traces of black chalk; passed over with the stylus for watercolor

    H. 17.2 cm; L. 14.2 cm

  • His de la Salle Collection; gift, 1878

    RF 681

  • Prints and Drawings

    Due to their fragility, works on paper are not on permanent display in the museum.

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