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Reading Aloud
Ostade, Adriaen van
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Ostade, Adriaen van

Haarlem, 1610 - Haarlem, 1685

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Reading Aloud

Ca. 1632. Oil on panel.
Not on display

This work belongs to the so-called peasant interiors, one of the new genres of painting that emerged and developed in Flanders and Holland in the early seventeenth century. In Houbraken and in early inventories they are described as een boertje, (a little peasant) or as toeback rookerchen (tobacco smokers). The consolidation and appreciation of this genre was fostered by the satirical and moralising literature of the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, which was in turn rooted in the Kerelslied or fourteenthcentury peasant ballads composed by the knights during the struggles with the peasants. However, the term kerel, which originally denoted the freeman peasant or villager, came to be used to describe the churl, an uncouth, boorish and coarse peasant whose behaviour, dominated by instincts and passions, contrasted with the rules of conduct of the new bourgeois class. This is the type of villager depicted in the peasant interiors that were acquired by the bourgeoisie as a source of entertainment or learning.

Van Ostade`s original -and essential- contribution to the peasant genre consisted in replacing the grotesque and violent scenes of Adriaen Brouwer with pleasant compositions infused with humour, thereby transforming the satirical depiction into a positive portrayal of the peasant class at moments of leisure and amusement. The genre thus acquired a new significance which, in Schnackenburg`s opinion (1981), has its literary parallel in a series of texts that emerged in mid-seventeenth-century Holland in defence of country life.

The scene introduces the viewer into a rustic interior. There, a man rests on a chair with his back to the viewer, an old woman sits with her right arm on a barrel and an open book in her hands, a child leans with his right arm on the old woman`s left leg, and a man stands beside them, laughing while pointing at the pitcher of beer he is holding in his left hand. In older catalogues, this painting appears as the companion piece to the P2122. Like that work, it was also included in the Colección litográfica de los cuadros del rey de España. Since 1942, it has been recorded in the Museum`s catalogues as a signed and dated work, A. v. Ostade 1632. However, neither the signature nor the date can be verified today.

The two scenes share a similar style and technique, although in this one the brushstrokes are more even and the spatial structure more complex. Firstly, the wall here does not occupy the whole of the background, as the upper part of the picture depicts the beams and straw roof, whilst the right-hand side opens out onto another room. This gives the composition greater spatial depth, to which the niche that opens in the middle of the wall also contributes. Nevertheless, the spatial arrangement between the dark foreground and the background still comes across as slightly awkward.

The scene appears to depict the mirth provoked by a humorous comment made by the man with the beer pitcher, perhaps regarding something the old woman has just read out. In the seventeenth century, reading aloud was a common pastime at informal gatherings, both among simple people and the bourgeoisie. If we accept Schnackenburg`s interpretation, Reading Aloud could be explained as a representation of the Sense of Hearing (Posada Kubissa, T.: Pintura holandesa en el Museo Nacional del Prado. Catálogo razonado, 2009, pp. 308-309).


Technical data

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Inventory number
Ostade, Adriaen van
Reading Aloud
Ca. 1632
Height: 24 cm; Width: 29 cm
Royal Collection

Bibliography +

Hofstede de Groot, Cornelis, A catalogue raisonné of the works of the most eminent dutch painters of the seventeeth century based on the work of John Smith, III, Macmillan and Co, Londres, 1908, pp. nº353.

Schnackenburg, Bernhard, Die Anfänge des Bauerninterieurs bei Adriaen van Ostade, Oud Holland, 1970, pp. 158-169.

Salas, Xavier de, Museo del Prado. Catálogo de las pinturas, Museo del Prado, Madrid, 1972, pp. 474.

Valdivieso, Enrique, Pintura Holandesa del siglo XVII en españa, Universidad, Valladolid, 1973, pp. 328.

Museo Nacional del Prado, Museo del Prado: inventario general de pinturas (I) La Colección Real, Museo del Prado, Espasa Calpe, Madrid, 1990.

Costamagna, A., Rembrandt Alla Galleria Borghese. L'Artemisia del Prado, Gebart, Roma, 1998.

Posada Kubissa, Teresa, Pintura holandesa en el Museo Nacional del Prado. Catálogo razonado, Museo Nacional del Prado, Madrid, 2009, pp. 101-102.

Other inventories +

Inv. Real Museo, 1857. Núm. 1026.
Isaac van Ostade /1026. El bebedor rustico. / Con un pote de cerveza en la mano, parece entretenido en un dulce coloquio con su licor. Una vieja y una muchacha suspenden su lectura para oír el gracioso monologo. (C.L.) (tabla.) Alto 10 pulg; ancho 1 pie, 4 lin.

Catálogo Museo del Prado, 1872-1907. Núm. 1514.
1514.-(1026-N.)-El bebedor rústico, en un coloquio con su pote de cerveza. Una vieja y una muchacha escuchan con atención su monólogo.-Compañero del anterior.-C.L. / Alto 0,24; ancho 0,29.-T.

Inv. Fernando VII, Palacio Nuevo, 1814-1818. Núm. 153-92.
Dos, tercia de largo quarta de alto rusticos fumando y bebiendo= Teniers.

Inv. José I, Palacio Real, 1811. Núm. 557.
Otro Gavinete del Quarto de Dormir. Una Muger leiendo Van Ostade.

Inv. Carlos III, Palacio Nuevo, 1772. Núm. 92-153.
92-153 = Reyna Madre= Dos iguales en tabla al vna de vna muger con vn chiquillo y vn hombre con vn jarro en la mano y la otra dos figuras de hombre y vn muchacho de tercia de largo y quarta de caida original original de Braber.

Museo Real de Pinturas a la muerte de Fernando VII, 1834. Núm. fol.412.
Quinientos cuarenta y ocho. El Bebedor, un rústico con un pote de cerveza en la mano, de ydem [Isaac van Ostade] y tabla.

Inv. Testamentaría Carlos III, Palacio Nuevo, 1794. Núm. s/n.
Dos de tercia escasa de largo y quarta de alto unos rusticos un leyendo y otro riendo = y el segundo rusticos con jarros en las manos = Adrian Van Ostade = 3.000

Inscriptions +

[Restos de etiqueta antigua]
Scrap of paper. Back

[Restos de etiqueta redonda]
Scrap of paper. Front, lower right corner

Inscribed in orange. Front, lower right corner

Inscribed in pen and ink. Back, Upper area

Inscribed in pen and ink. Back, central area

Inscribed. Back

Exhibitions +

Dutch Painters at the Prado
03.12.2009 - 11.04.2010

Displayed objects +


Update date: 28-06-2022 | Registry created on 28-04-2015

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