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Western art

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Peasant at the window

mid 1650s


Cornelis Bega


1931/1932 - 27 Aug 1664


During his short career Bega produced an oeuvre of 34 etchings of low-life subjects which owe their inspiration to the etchings of his master Adrian van Ostade – the major exponent of the peasant genre in 17th-century Holland. These include several figure groups depicted in tavern interiors as well as a series of individual head or figure studies of peasants. The interior scenes are often set against richly hatched, dark backgrounds in front of which figures are dramatically lit.

A peasant is shown leaning on the sill of what appears to be an upper window and gazes down presumably at passers-by in the street. The subject-matter marks a move away from Bega’s slightly earlier peasants who were more strongly caricatured as crude, empty-headed individuals. The print probably derives from a painted version of the same subject by Van Ostade. 'Peasant at the window' is described by Duthuit as one of the finest prints in Bega’s oeuvre and probably dates to the mid 1650s. It is more carefully worked than his other single-figure studies. As in his interiors, the dark background of the room behind provides a foil against which the figure appears brightly lit. The print is known in two states of which the former omits the signature and the lower member of the window frame.


Alternative title

Le paysan à la fenêtre


mid 1650s

Media category


Materials used

etching and drypoint


ii of 2 states


9.2 x 8.6 cm trimmed to platemark; 36.3 x 31.0 x 2.9 cm frame

Signature & date

Signed l.l., [incised plate] "C. bega". Not dated.


The Estate of James O Fairfax AC


Not on display

Accession number


Artist information

Cornelis Bega

Works in the collection


Shown in 2 exhibitions

Exhibition history

Referenced in 2 publications


Art Gallery of New South Wales, The James Fairfax collection of old masters, Sydney, 1992, p [1].

Richard Beresford and Peter Raissis, The James Fairfax collection of old master paintings, drawings and prints, Sydney, 2003, p 21, no 3, illus p 20.