About this artwork

Characteristic of Teniers’s early genre paintings, this work depicts ‘boors’ revelling in a tavern. A group of peasants gather around a small table and are engaged in drinking and smoking pipes. Such scenes of crude behaviour were popular among those wealthy enough to buy paintings. They had a moralising implication, and were enjoyed by wealthy patrons who compared their own behaviour to that of the uncouth peasants, thereby gauging their own superior principles and moral wellbeing. The figures often displayed readable unscrupulous gestures, for example, the man standing smoking has his left hand (traditionally the sinister hand) concealed in his coat, and his hat pulled down over his eyes to denote his untrustworthiness.

David Teniers, the Younger

David Teniers, the Younger

Teniers was one of the most important seventeenth-century Flemish painters of low-life scenes. He first studied painting under his father in Antwerp. Although he painted some small religious pieces in the 1630s, it was his genre scenes that were most popular and for which he is best remembered. By 1633 he had become master of the Antwerp Guild of St Luke, and in 1644 he was appointed as Dean. He enjoyed the patronage of some of the most prominent men in the southern Netherlands, including the Bishop of Bruges and Archduke Leopold William, to whom he became court painter in 1651. Teniers’s success brought him great wealth, and his paintings remained popular long after his death. They were particularly admired by nineteenth-century collectors.