Pieter Quast

Pieter Quast - A dancing jester with a crane on his head

A dancing jester with a crane on his head

Pieter Jansz. Quast was born in Amsterdam ca. 1605. It is unknown who taught him, although his work was clearly influenced by the Flemish genre-scene painter Adriaen Brouwer and the French draughtsman and engraver Jacques Callot. In 1632 Quast married Anniette Splinters. Between 1634 and 1641 the couple lived in The Hague, where Quast became a member of the local guild of St Luke. In 1641 they went back to Amsterdam, where they remained until Quast’s death in 1647. He is known to have taught at least two pupils, Dirck Cornelisz. de Hooch (by who virtually no works are known) and the genre-painter Jan Jansz. Buesem.

Pieter Quast painted mostly small-scale genre scenes, with the subjects ranging from groups of peasants to elegant companies. The satirical and caricatural quality of his work is reminiscent of the work of his contemporary, Adriaen van de Venne, although Quast adopted a looser drawing style. Besides paintings, he also made finished drawings (i.e. not sketches), often on vellum. Although some of his work was engraved, it is unclear whether he did this himself. An example of this is the “Series with two jesters” (Hollstein 57 – 68), which shows the influence of Callot and his Commedia dell’ Arte figures on Quast’s work.

The present work comes from an album containing 46 numbered drawings by Pieter Quast, with studies of actors, jesters and costumes. Some of these sheets were signed and dated (between 1638 and 1640), allowing us to firmly attribute this sheet to his hand. At some point, the album was taken apart, scattering the sheets across various private and public collections. A comparable drawing to the present one, showing a comedian in a similar pose, is currently kept in the Rijksprentenkabinet, Amsterdam.



Artist: Pieter Quast (Amsterdam 1605 - 1647)
Medium: graphite on vellum
Dimensions: 195 x 153 mm
Inscribed: numbered '21', upper right