Here are two almost identical details of Isack van Ostade’s “A Village Fair” 1643
Can you spot any significant differences between them?
Look carefully at the dog at the bottom of the painting. What’s he so interested in?
The dog is reacting to nothing in the first version on the left. In the second version (right) we find a peasant relieving himself by the wall. The dog is watching and interested by such things, as dogs are! Isack van Ostade knows this and uses the dog to direct our attention to the crouching peasant.
This painting was recently given a complete and thorough restoration. While layers of varnish and overpainting were removed this figure was revealed!
It’s thought that during the last restoration, which took place in 1903, the peasant was painted out. No doubt he was thought to be too lavatorial of us viewers or our Edwardian counterparts.
Observations like this in a genre painting, for me, bring the thing to life. Our imagination is fired by what we discover in such details. Here Isack van Ostade is reeling us in to his rural scene guiding us around the everyday moments from a 17 century dutch world.
A Village Fair, with a Church behind (Full Painting)
The painting is on show at Masters of the Everyday, Dutch Artists in the Age of Vermeer, The Queen’s Gallery, Palace of Holyroodhouse Edinburgh till the 26th July 2016.
A talk on this specific painting on Tuesday the 19th July.
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