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Cornelis Bega (active 1631/32-64), The Young Hostess, c. 1660-64, etching. Reference: Hollstein, Bartsch 33, third state (of 5). With the address of J. Covens and C Mortier bottom left – before the address was removed (in the fourth state) and the artist’s signature was added (in the fifth state). In excellent condition, printed in black/grey ink on an old laid paper, with a 3/16 inch margin outside the plate mark all around, archival matting. 7 x 6 1/4 inches.
Provenance: Ex collection Graff (with stamp verso, Lugt 1092a), LRV (with stamp verso, Lugt 1761), an unidentified collector’s stamp verso, and Dr. Karl Herveg (his stamp verso, Lugt 3974).
A very good impression, with the guidelines of the address strongly visible.
Dr. Karl Herweg was a noted collector of 17th Century Dutch prints, especially those of Van Ostade and Bega. Dr. Herweg bought most of his old master prints from CG Boerner in Dusseldorf, where he was advised by legendary connoisseur and scholar-dealer Eduard Trautscholdt whose real passion was the etchings of the Haarlem genre painter-etchers: Cornelis Bega, Adriaen van Ostade, and the latter’s pupil Cornelis Dusart.
In this late stage of Bega’s career he typically grouped his figures tightly in a pyramidal cluster. Here the setting is austere, with various elements extending the middle grouping. The light comes from an undisclosed source in the foreground, and from the open window at the right.
The figures in this scene are characteristic of Bega’s portrayals of Dutch tavern life in the late 17th Century: one old patron caresses the barmaid as the other – his left foot seemingly placed between the feet of the girl – chews on a bone.