This print portrays a lively interior scene in the 17th century Dutch Republic. There are many figures around the large room, including men, women, and children. At the far right a man tries to embrace a resisting woman. Beside them, a man and a woman dance while a fiddler plays and others look on. On the left, a woman tends to a child as behind her a couple descend a wooden stairway from an upper floor. There are items such as cured meat, a lantern, a chair and laundry, hanging around this room.
This print by Adriaen van Ostade, one of the most important and influential seventeenth-century Dutch artists, is thought to depict a May Day celebration or a wedding feast and is one of the artist’s most complex compositions. The open space with jumbled elements in the background—a hanging chair, disorderly laundry, and stored basins and baskets—as well as the overturned stool in the foreground animate the scene, reinforcing the bustling activity and various emotions of the figures. Ostade came from a family of artists and worked as both a painter and a print-maker, specializing in depictions of peasants and genre subjects of people dancing, fighting, and generally reveling. Indeed, the source for this work—seen reversed in the print—is a painting by Ostade in the collection of the Toledo Museum of Art.