Merry-Making in Front of a Cottage, plate 4 from The Horrors of the Spanish War (Boereverdriet)

David Vinckboons Netherlandish
Publisher Boetius Adams Bolswert Netherlandish

Not on view

Although David Vinckboons made only three prints himself, his designs were the basis for more prints than any other Netherlandish artist in the early seventeen century. Many of the prints illustrate proverbs or scenes from contemporary life, often with satirical overtones. The present work is from a series of four engravings published by Boetius Adams Bolswert in 1610. Bolswert was himself a printmaker, best known for his prints after Abraham Bloemaert, the Mannerist artist, and this series has sometimes been attributed to Bloemaert.

The subject of the series is the Eighty Years War (1566/68-1688) during which the domestic population of the Netherlands, many of whom were Protestant, sought to free themselves from Spain and the harsh restrictions that their Catholic rulers placed on them. It focused specifically on the harm inflicted on the peasants: the boerverdriet (peasants’ sorrow).

The fourth and final plate in the series shows the village at peace with the peasants and soldiers celebrating the end of the fighting. At the left end of the table, a village woman is nursing a harlot’s baby while a farmer and a soldier toast each other. The streets are now filled with people and the dog has been rewarded with a bone. The text underneath refers to how the truce has turned everything upside down, and can be considered as a comment on the fragility of the human condition.

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