Peasant family at prayer before eating In early modern Europe, the ‘blessing of the table’ or ‘benediction’ was said before a meal, while the ‘act of thanks’ or ‘saying grace’ was said at the end. Normally, the father would lead these prayers, as van Ostade shows in this print of a peasant family giving thanks before they tuck into a shared plate of porridge or pottage, eaten with a communal spoon. Such prints were intended to instruct viewers in correct patterns of devotional behaviour and to emphasise the need to give thanks for one’s ‘daily bread’.
Adriaen van Ostade (1610 – 85)
Transferred from Cambridge University Library, 1876 (AD.1.18-715)</sect3>