Cornelis Dusart (1660-1704)

Cornelis Dusart was born in Haarlem on April 24, 1660, to Jan Tucert (Dusart) of Utrecht and Katharina Brouwers.

According to van Gool, he was the most promising apprentice of Adriaen van Ostade. He entered the Haarlem Guild of Saint Luke on January 10, 1679. Three years later, on March 29, 1682, he was registered as an unmarried member of the Haarlem Reformed Church. In 1692 he was appointed head of the painters’ guild. He died on October 1, 1704, and was buried in Haarlem three days later.


On July 31, 1708, his art collection was auctioned off in The Hague. It included several paintings begun by Adriaen van Ostade and maybe also Isaack van Ostade, which Dusart seems to have inherited and completed after his master’s death in 1685. Although Dusart is best known as a painter of peasant scenes, he was also a draftsman and engraver. His works often feature elements of caricature.

In 1750–1751 Johan van Gool, one of the first biographers to continue Houbraken’s work, wrote that Dusart “Closely followed in his master’s footsteps regarding all aspects of representing peasant life.” Dusart’s paintings and drawings between 1679 — the year he entered the Haarlem guild — and 1682 look so much like those of Ostade that experts still struggle to distinguish their works. While still inspired by his master as well as the paintings of Jan Steen, after 1682 Dusart developed a more distinct personal style. Like his friend the illustrious painting collector Dongemaus, Dusart also collected antique paintings and prints.

His artistic prestige is evinced by the presence of his paintings in top art institutions and museums around the world, including in:

Amsterdam: Fish Market and Village Festival; Antwerp: Interior; Avignon: Smokers; Brussels: Country Fair; Dresden: Mother with Child; Haarlem: Interior of an Inn; Leningrad Hermitage: Small Workshop; London: Peasant Family; National Gallery of Venice: Three Drinkers. Dusart shared his teacher Ostade’s interest in subjects that were also favored by Pieter Bruegel. Both painted genre scenes called grillen (“funny scenes”), often in a small format, that were popular in the 18th century. Often showing people quarreling under the influence of alcohol, particularly until 1640, the scenes are set in taverns and other rural locations.

By 1640/1650, Dusart’s near-monochrome colors became warmer and chiaroscuro effects appear, probably inspired by Rembrandt. After 1665, his paintings became more peaceful and orderly, and his colors brighter and more transparent. Both Cornelis Dusart and Adriaen van Ostade continued the genre painting tradition begun by Pieter Bruegel.

In his 1604 biography of “Pier den Drol” (Pieter the Joker), art critic Karel van Mander tells us that Bruegel “enjoyed observing peasants’ behavior and studied how they drank, ate, danced, fought, and even made love. He reproduced all these observations in his paintings in a very funny and cheerful way.” Obviously, all these depictions of smokers, drinkers, and cheerful musicians inspired reflections on vanity (e.g., music, like smoke, vanishes into the air), or virtues that oppose deplorable behaviors like tobacco and alcohol consumption. Paintings in this school depict both outdoor subjects, such as village festivals, indoor scenes, such as in this wonderful painting, and scenes of taverns and inns.