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Two Peasant Scenes

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Peasants with Donkeys and its companion painting Musicians are intimate scenes of peasant life, observed by night as if we ourselves are part of the action. Both make use of a warm, earthy palette and lively, loose brushwork to bring the figures they depict to life. The two pictures probably date from between 1710 and 1715, shortly after Crespi’s stay in Florence.

These pictures were formerly thought to be fragments of a single composition, perhaps an Old Testament subject. Close examination of the canvases, however, has shown that they were part of two separate, though related, works. Both have at some point been cut down at the left and top edges, and it is impossible to know how large they originally were. They are slightly different sizes but the similarities in the scale of the figures, the range of colour and the lively brushstrokes suggest that they must have been intended to hang together.

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