In contrast to the paved, urban gardens portrayed by Pieter de Hooch, this country cottage has only a dirt yard, where the wife cleans mussels for dinner. Laundry dries on a line attached to a shed, which also supports a pigeon coop, and the shelf by the door holds beehives. The clinging vines may allude to family unity.
In addition to such touching and dignified portrayals of peasants, Van Ostade painted bawdy scenes of taverns and barns. He entered the Haarlem guild in 1634. Adriaen van Ostade's students included Jan Steen and his younger brother Isack van Ostade. Both Van Ostade brothers' attention to textures is remarkable. Even such common surfaces as thatched roofs, crumbling bricks, and cracked window panes are forcefully described.
[Oil on canvas, 44 x 39.5 cm]