An officer stands in a stable yard resting his foot on top of a turned over washtub, while a peasant kneels to adjust his spur. This task was normally part of a page’s duties, as seen in guardroom scenes of the time, but in several of Pieter Quast’s paintings officers humiliate peasants by forcing them to handle their spurs.
Here, the officer’s female companion further degrades the peasant by pushing his head down. Another figure in the left background is tending to the officer’s horse; these peasants might also have been forced to accommodate the officer, a common practice during the time. Typical for Quast, the tone of the painting is rather theatrical and satirical, ridiculing the officer’s pretentiousness.
This painting came from the private collection of Charles Lock Eastlake, first Director of the National Gallery.
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