New to the Ackland: A Drawing by Pieter Quast

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A black and white drawing of a group of people playing a drinking game

This past June, Dutch art scholar Jochai Rosen featured a striking drawing in his paper “The Drawing Oeuvre of Pieter Quast (c. 1605-1647): An Assessment,” which he presented at the Peck Drawings Symposium in Amsterdam, an event co-organized with the Rembrandt House Museum and the Rijksmuseum in conjunction with the Ackland’s traveling exhibition Drawn to Life: Master Drawings from the Age of Rembrandt in the Peck Collection at the Ackland Art Museum. The exceptionally large sheet, which depicts a rustic social gathering outdoors, is now the most recent addition to the Ackland’s Peck Collection of seventeenth- and eighteenth-century Dutch and Flemish drawings.

Executed in graphite on vellum, or animal skin, Merry Company shows an old woman approaching men drinking and smoking around a table. The principal seated figure holds a so-called pasglas, a tall cylindrical beaker featuring horizontal bands used for drinking games. According to the rules, if the participant gulped more than his pas, or measurement, he was required to drink until the next mark, and so on. The man hunched over the tabletop and unconscious exhibits the resulting intoxication. Though such imagery warned about the effects of alcohol, this drawing’s comic figures and entertaining situation would have amused contemporary collectors, as would the contrast between the so-called “low-life” subject matter and the luxury support on which it was drawn.

Merry Company is the first work by Dutch artist Pieter Quast to enter the Ackland’s collection. Expertly rendered and in excellent condition, the drawing represents an important addition to the genre scenes of everyday life already in the Peck Collection, including those by Adriaen van de Venne, Adriaen van Ostade, Cornelis Dusart, and Frans van Mieris, among others.

To learn more about the Ackland’s Peck Collection, visit

Image Credit:

Pieter Quast, Dutch, 1605/6-1647, Merry Company or the Allegory of Seduction, c. 1638-1645, graphite and gray wash on vellum, 10 15/16 × 13 11/16 in. (27.8 × 34.7 cm). The Peck Collection, 2023.25. Photograph courtesy of Onno van Seggelen.