• Soldiers Beside a Fireplace

    Artist:
    Duyster, Willem Cornelisz. c. 1599-1635
    Technique:
    oil
    Dimensions:
    43,5x45,5 cm

Duyster, Willem Cornelisz. c. 1599-1635

Soldiers Beside a Fireplace

Holland, early 1630s

The protagonists in genre scenes that were much appreciated by the public and by art purchasers might be members of any social class or group. Soldiers and officers featured particularly frequently in the works of Dutch artists of the Golden Age. Although the nation had only recently been involved in a war for its independence, it was not battle scenes that were particularly in demand, however, but pictures of peaceful relaxation and gambling. The talented Dutch genre painter Willem Duyster, who died young, first painted Soldiers by the Fireplace in the early 1630s. The work was so successful with his contemporaries that the artist repeated it three times. The subject is simple: in the depths of a room two men are playing cards and smoking pipes by the light of a candle. A couple of other personages are warming themselves by the fireplace and listening to a young man wearing a fox-fur hat who has a very exotic appearance. Perhaps he is telling of voyages overseas – in this period Dutch ships sailed all over the world. The Age of Discovery brought this small country on the fringes of Europe great wealth and new lands, and among wandering beggars there was a special class who would regale people with tales of their adventures in the New World or the Indies. The sharp contrasts between the dark silhouettes and the bright patches of light produce a special somewhat mysterious atmosphere in the foreground of this painting. Among the Small Dutch Masters, Duyster was one of the first to employ the eloquent language of chiaroscuro – powerful contrasts of light and shade.

Title:

Soldiers Beside a Fireplace

Place:

Date:

Material:

Technique:

oil

Dimensions:

43,5x45,5 cm

Acquisition date:

Entered the Hermitage in 1922; transferred from the Academy of Fine Arts

Inventory Number:

ГЭ-3636

Category:

Collection: