Droochsloot was a very productive painter. Sadly, from the early 1630s, he often repeated the same subject: a village street with beggars. Clearly his earlier paintings, such as ours, are of a higher quality and of course also originality. These early, colourful paintings still show a strong Flemish influence, going back as far as Pieter Brueghel the Elder.
Our painter lived and worked practically his whole life in Utrecht, where he was socially strongly involved. In our painting a rich couple is watching poor peasants sitting outside a tavern. Is this a form of criticism at their loose behaviour? Most probably.
Such a low life genre scenes with happy peasants exceedingly merrymaking were both a source of delight and of instruction for the town population of this strongly Protestant society, which twenty two years later was to become officially the Dutch Republic in 1648. These paintings with peasants drinking, eating, smoking, dancing, flirting or fighting were often meant as lessons against misbehaviour.
About Joost-Cornelisz. Droochsloot
Utrecht 1586 – 1666 Utrecht
Painter of genre scenes, usually with peasants, village and town views and landscapes (including some winter landscapes) and a few religious and allegorical subjects (mostly at the start of his career).
It is not known whom our painter studied under. Seeing the Flemish character of his oeuvre some scholars think he might have studied in Flanders, in Antwerp.
Droochsloot remained in Utrecht his whole life, except for a period at the start of his career: his earliest painting, dated 1615, was made at The Hague, but from 1616 onwards he was back in Utrecht. That year was his first inscription as a member of his birthplace Painter’s Guild of Saint Luke. He was Dean in 1623, 1641 and 1642.
Master of six pupils: best known are his own son, Cornelis Droochsloot (1640 – after 1673), and Cornelis Duck (circa 1600 – 1667, painter of genre scenes, regularly with military).
Droochsloot died in 1666, one year after his wife, Agnieten van Rijnevelt. The couple had at least eleven children, but all of them, except for the painter Cornelis, died before them. Actually Cornelis married May 3rd 1666, with his father as his witness, who died just a few days later (he was buried the 14th).Three of the children of Joost-Cornelisz. and Agnieten died from the plague in 1636. In five years time, of which 1636 was clearly the worst, at least 4300 inhabitants of Utrecht died of it, almost 15% of the total population of some 30.000 inhabitants. And then one does not take into account other killing diseases, such as cholera.
Our painter’s first name should be pronounced Joost-Corneliszoon. The “z.” at its end stands for “zoon”, “son”.
Droochsloot was a versatile and productive painter. The Central Museum of his hometown Utrecht holds 15 of his paintings, showing the diversity of his work.
On the other hand Droochsloot is also known for the repetitive character of his artistic production, regularly repeating diverse variations in all dimensions of his most successful composition: a village street with houses on both sides with many inhabitants and beggars, sometimes including the Seven Act of Mercy.
One should see the choice for this subject against the background of his own social involvement in his community:
- in 1638 he was elected regent of the Saint Job’s hospital, along the Vleutenseweg, a function that he kept until his death.
The Painter’s Guild of Saint Luke of Utrecht was established in one of the rooms of that Hospital. During the 17th century it was a habit that each year a local artist would offer a painting to this almshouse, which would then be hung in the Regent’s room. Droochsloot had done so in 1628: a landscape with the consolation of Job’s friends.
- in 1642 Droochsloot became deacon of the Dutch Reformed Church.
Why should you buy this painting?
Because in these “early” colourful, animated, strongly Flemish influenced scenes Droochsloot was at his best.