In this tender little scene, Adriaen van Ostade shows an elderly peasant with his hand on that of a woman about his age. He leans towards her, his other hand holding a tall, full beer glass – perhaps denoting his desire for her. Her hand is on a long unbroken clay pipe – in Dutch art of the time this often symbolised virginity. She smiles a little, but has not yet raised her eyes to his, so we sense her shyness and uncertainty.
In the eighteenth century a print of the two elderly lovers was known as ‘Het schollenmannetje’, literally ‘the little plaice man’, referring to the fish on the table, perhaps brought as a gift to the man’s beloved.
Eight hundred of Adriaen van Ostade’s paintings are known, most of them small genre scenes. They show his skill in portraying human emotions with a keen eye for reality and, in this case, great sensitivity and empathy.
Download an 800px wide, 72dpi copy of this image.
License and download a high resolution image for reproductions up to A3 size from the National Gallery Picture Library.
This image is licensed for non-commercial use under a Creative Commons agreement.
Examples of non-commercial use are:
The image file is 800 pixels on the longest side.
As a charity, we depend upon the generosity of individuals to ensure the collection continues to engage and inspire. Help keep us free by making a donation today.
You must agree to the Creative Commons terms and conditions to download this image.