recto © President and Fellows of Harvard College
Gallery Text

In a career that lasted just over a decade, Isaac van Ostade—the younger brother and likely pupil of Adriaen van Ostade—developed a distinct style marked by both a masterful incorporation of landscape into scenes of peasant life and a predilection for humorous representation of the lower classes. Here, the artist treats the subject, an inebriated woman vomiting, with a moralizing sense of comedy. The theme relates to overindulgence and its negative consequences, cautioning the viewer to avoid the antagonism and shame suffered by the protagonist. The artist repeated this suite of figures on a smaller scale in the foreground of one of his painted landscapes, altering the poses and colors and setting them off against a more muted backdrop. He also omitted the spewing vomit central to the drawing—leaving more ambiguous the source of the woman’s ridicule.

Identification and Creation
Object Number
Isaac van Ostade, Dutch (Haarlem, Netherlands 1621 - 1649 Haarlem, Netherlands)
Drunk Peasant Couple; verso: Sketch of a Farmhouse
Work Type
c. 1639-41
Physical Descriptions
Brown ink, brown wash, red, blue, and yellow chalk wash with graphite on cream antique laid paper; remnants of a brown-ink framing line at upper, left, and lower edges; verso: brown ink and gray wash
15.3 x 21.5 cm (6 x 8 7/16 in.)
Inscriptions and Marks
  • collector's mark: lower right, black ink, stamp: L. 2330b (Anton Schmid)
  • inscription: verso, lower left, graphite: 1818
  • collector's mark: verso, lower left, brown ink stamp: L. 805b (Gottfried Eissler)
  • watermark: none
[Amsler and Ruthardt, Berlin, 25-27 May 1908, lot 376, repr. pl. 2]. Dr. Gottfried Eissler, Vienna (L. 805b, verso, lower left). Anton Schmid, Vienna (L. 2330b, lower right). [Galerie Arnoldi-Livie, Munich], sold; to Maida and George Abrams, Boston, 1989 (L. 3306, without their mark); The Maida and George Abrams Collection, 2008.256.
Acquisition and Rights
Credit Line
The Maida and George Abrams Collection, Fogg Art Museum, Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts
Accession Year
Object Number
European and American Art
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Publication History

Bernhard Schnackenburg, Adriaen van Ostade, Isack van Ostade: Zeichnungen und Aquarelle (Hamburg, Germany, 1981), Vol. 1, cat. no. 421, p. 161, and pp. 49, 52, 53, and 57, repr. vol. 2, pl. 175 (recto) and 177 (verso)

70 Nordeuropäische meisterzeichnungen 1500-1920, auct. cat., Galerie Arnoldi-Livie (Munich, Germany, 1990), cat. no. 20, pp. 40-41, repr. (recto)

William W. Robinson, Seventeenth-Century Dutch Drawings: A Selection from the Maida and George Abrams Collection, exh. cat., H. O. Zimman, Inc. (Lynn, MA, 1991), cat. no. 88, pp. 194-5, repr.

Marian Bisanz-Prakken, Drawings from the Albertina: Landscape in the Age of Rembrandt, exh. cat., Art Services International (Alexandria, Virginia, 1995), under cat. nos. 49-50, p. 106 (n. 6)

James Harper, Verso: The Flip Side of Master Drawings, exh. cat., Harvard University Art Museums (Cambridge, MA, 2001), cat. no. 15, pp. 43-44, repr. (recto and verso)

Important Old Master Paintings and European Works of Art, auct. cat., Sotheby's, New York (New York, January 26, 2007), under lot 437

William W. Robinson and Susan Anderson, Drawings from the Age of Bruegel, Rubens, and Rembrandt: Highlights from the Collection of the Harvard Art Museums, Harvard Art Museums (Cambridge, MA, 2016), cat. no. 64, pp. 219-221, repr. p. 220 (recto and verso)

Exhibition History

Seventeenth-Century Dutch Drawings: A Selection from the Maida and George Abrams Collection, Rijksprentenkabinet, Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam, 02/23/1991 - 04/18/1991; Albertina Gallery, Vienna, 05/16/1991 - 06/30/1991; Pierpont Morgan Library, New York, 01/22/1992 - 04/22/1992; Harvard University Art Museums, Fogg Art Museum, Cambridge, 10/10/1992 - 12/06/1992

Verso: The Flip Side of Master Drawings, Harvard University Art Museums, Cambridge, 05/19/2001 - 08/12/2001

Drawings from the Age of Bruegel, Rubens, and Rembrandt, Harvard Art Museums, Cambridge, 05/21/2016 - 08/14/2016

Subjects and Contexts

Dutch, Flemish, & Netherlandish Drawings

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