The Fishwife (c.1660 – c.1670) by Adriaen van Ostade

The Fishwife - Adriaen van Ostade - c.1660 - c.1670

Artwork Information

TitleThe Fishwife
ArtistAdriaen van Ostade
Datec.1660 - c.1670
MediumOil on Wood
Dimensions29 x 26.5 cm
Art MovementBaroque
Current LocationBudapest Museum of Fine Arts, Budapest, Hungary

About The Fishwife

“The Fishwife,” a genre painting by Adriaen van Ostade, dates from circa 1660 to 1670. Crafted in oil on wood, the artwork measures 29 by 26.5 centimeters and is a testament to the Baroque movement. The painting is a part of the collection at the Budapest Museum of Fine Arts in Budapest, Hungary, where it continues to be admired for its portrayal of everyday life from a bygone era.

The artwork depicts a robust scene of daily life, focusing on a fishwife at her market stall. The central figure is a woman dressed in a white blouse, a red waistcoat, and a dark hat, appearing to engage with the viewer as if mid-conversation. Her expression is one of candid openness, indicative of the genre’s intent to capture the unembellished essence of ordinary life. She is actively involved in the process of gutting and preparing fish, which are prominently displayed across the table, showcasing the reality of her trade. The fish on the wooden table exhibit a degree of still-life detail that complements the busy, yet contained, nature of the scene.

The background reveals a glimpse into the lively marketplace, with other vendors and customers captured in various stages of interaction. It is evident that Ostade took care to render the depth of this social setting, alluding to the interconnectedness of community life. The warm palette and dappled lighting characteristic of Baroque paintings add to the richness and texture of the composition. Overall, the artwork serves as a detailed snapshot of 17th-century life, reveling in the simplicity and authenticity of the working class.

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