DUSART, Cornelis
(b. 1660, Haarlem, d. 1704, Haarlem)

Young Man with a Raised Glass

Chalk on blue-gray paper, 246 x 146 mm
Musées Royaux des Beaux-Arts, Brussels

Following the steps of his teacher Adriaen van Ostade, Cornelis Dusart devoted himself to the drawing, painting and etching of genre tableaux, peasant gatherings and caricatural heads. His early works remain influenced by Van Ostade, but during the 1680s he developed his own very specific style. In these years he prepared very carefully worked figure studies, which represent the most original part of his extensive and many-side graphic oeuvre. These drawings, among them Young Man with Raísed Glass, are mostly executed in black chalk, at times on blue paper with just a little red chalk for the face and hands.

Dusart worked almost exclusively with male models, whom he had pose constantly in different positions and in varying clothing, concentrating on the facial expressions and psychological characterisation: here we have a jolly drinker, a pipe in his left hand and staring dreamily upward - as if in a slight stupor. The drawing reminds us of the tobacco that, in the 17th century, had a much stronger effect on the body than today. The man is presented in full-length, with his face away from the light and only the right eye softly illuminated. Dusart masterfully suggests the subtle shifts from light to dark by means of white chalk highlights, for example on the right side of the face, or with stumped black chalk, as on the open jacket. This delicate technique he undoubtedly took from Cornelis Bega. The catalogue of Dusart's studio produced after his death shows that he had collected drawings by this master. The inventory also mentions "mannetjes na 't leven van Dusart, 251 stux" (little men drawn from life by Dusart, 251 items), possibly a reference to these male figures.

Although Dusart signed his finest examples and sold them as independent works of art, many that he kept for creating new works have been conserved in this way. For example the drawing discussed here served as an aide-mémoire in composing a mezzotint, a graphic print from a copper plate with varying transitions between light and dark. Dusart's knowledge of this technique, first applied around 1650, reveals once again his particular interest in light in all its gradations.