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Adriaen van Ostade

(1610–1685, Haarlem)

The Spectacle Dealer. Etching. 10.3 x 9 cm. Circa 1646. B. 29, Dutuit, Davidsohn, Godefroy, Hollstein 29 III (of VI).

In The Spectacle Dealer Ostade again shows his consummate skill in capturing scenes from ordinary everyday life. His choice of the present motif was probably inspired by Rembrandt’s portrayals of hawkers, although as ever he has found a visual form of expression which is very much his own. An old woman standing behind a half-open front door eagerly reaches out to take the spectacles handed to her by an itinerant dealer from his tray-like basket. The master of the house cannot help sneaking a look from the dark background of the front room either. The print is available in an early third state with the rounded edges and darker framing line but before all other work. Godefroy described this state as “rare (R)”, mentioning the present impression in his catalogue raisonné of Ostade’s etchings. Two drawings by Ostade related to this etching have been preserved and are now in Rotterdam and Boston. A very fine impression printed with delicate tone, with occasional vertical wiping marks and thread margins around the distinct platemark. Traces of the previous mounting on the verso, other insignificant handling marks, otherwise in pristine condition. From the collections of J. Burleigh James (Lugt 1425), Paul Davidsohn (Lugt 654, auctioned by C. G. Boerner Leipzig, 22–26 November 1920, lot 1787) and Paolo Giordani (Lugt 3688).

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