Peasants at a Doorway [Country Inn]
Isaac van Ostade studied with his brother Adriaen and produced some 400 paintings in his brief working life in Haarlem. He specialized in landscapes with genre elements. Roadside inns with travelers stopping is his most common theme, as seen here. The inn itself dominates the scene as it is an unusually tall building of more than three stories with a projecting overhanging wooden balcony at roofline. Presumably this was a real building as the same one seems to be depicted from a side view in his Travelers Outside an Inn signed and dated 1646 (now in the Mauritshuis in the Hague). A prosperous couple, he in tall black hat, she busy with distaff and threadwinder, are placed at the entrance to the inn conversing with a peasant seen from the back. His dogs are eager to move on. In the left background are distant figures of travelers, one riding a white horse, which is something of a trademark for van Ostade. A blasted tree is silhouetted against the sky; ruined cellars, fallen trees, and debris are seen in the dark murk of the foreground. Light and dark shift dramatically across the landscape and its cloud filled sky.