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Rembrandt Harmensz van Rijn - The Three Crosses
Adriaen van Ostade
Dutch, 1610-1684
The Dance in the Inn
Etching printed in black on paper
Purchased

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During the early seventeenth century images of peasants in genre prints were often used both to amuse and to impart a moral message. Ostade’s print The Dance in the Inn, however, displays none of the squalid drunkenness and chaos typical of depictions of lower-class revels. While the assembled company is certainly drinking, smoking, dancing, and canoodling, all of which were viewed as disreputable activities, Ostade also includes vignettes of moral behavior: the woman with her child in the left foreground, and woman tending the fire in the background (fire was often used as symbol of lustful passion). The tree visible behind the fiddler and the branch in the center of the room indicate that this may be a May Day celebration, where festivities heralded the arrival of spring.

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