Dutch genre artist Adriaen van Ostade was born on December 10, 1610 at Haarlem. His father was a weaver from Ostade in the Netherlands. In 1627 Adriaen completed his artistic studies under the Dutch artist Frans Hals. His early work was much influenced by Adriaen Brouwer, a contemporary artist who had also been a pupil of Hals.
In his earliest etchings and paintings Adriaen van Ostade depicted scenes of peasant life, usually set in crowded taverns with much lowlife activity, including drinking and fighting. His younger brother Isaak painted similar scenes, as well as being a landscape painter.
In 1634 Adriaen van Ostade joined the art guild of St. Luke in Haarlem. He also signed up with the Civic Guard at Haarlem in 1636 and married his first wife in 1638. He became a widower two years later.
Around 1640 van Ostade started to use light and shade in greater contrast. His new painting style was obviously influenced by Rembrandt. In 1647 he joined the Haarlem Guild of Painters and from 1650 onward he changed his painting style to follow the trend at that time in Dutch painting. He painted in brighter colors and with a lighter touch than in his earlier works. His peasant scenes became less exuberant and he began to paint quieter interior scenes of domestic life in humble homes.
Adriaen van Ostade married his second wife, Anna Ingels, in 1657 and for two years he was deacon to the Guild of St. Luke in Haarlem. His wife died in 1666. He left Haarlem in 1672 and for a while he was living in the home of an art collector in Amsterdam. There he created and sold colored drawings depicting village life, country fairs and other rural scenes. Watercolor scenes of peasant life were much in demand and van Ostade began to paint more watercolors after 1670.
He was a prolific artist who painted hundreds of pictures and created many fine etchings. In addition to paintings images of peasant life and village activities, van Ostande also painted Biblical scenes, still life studies and some portraits. He worked for major artists, such as Jacob van Ruisdael and Pieter Saenredam, by painting figures into their landscapes.
Adriaen van Ostade established his own workshop studio in Haarlem and several of his apprentices went on to become well known Dutch artists. His own brother, Isaak van Ostade was one of his students. Jan Steen was another notable pupil.
During his lifetime Adriaen van Ostade became famous and acquired great wealth from the sale of his prints. In his own country only Rembrandt had a higher reputation as a great printmaker at that time.
When he died in Haarlem on May 2, 1685, the contents of his studio included more than 200 artworks. These works were auctioned under the direction of Johannes Vermeer. Among them there were fifty etched plates, which had been prepared for printing, dating back to 1647-48.