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Title A Flemish Village Festival
Collection English Heritage (Wellington Museum, Apsley House)
Artist Teniers, David II (Flemish painter, 1610-1690)
Date 1639 (dated)
Signed yes

In the centre, a man with an apron (presumably the innkeeper) is apparently drinking the health of the winner of a game, who is holding the prize in his hand. On the right, women are playing a game (described in the 1829 sale cat. as ‘women running a race for a cake exhibited on a pole'), watched by an audience of men. In both instances the ‘prize' appears to be a flat cake or bread, or a placque, with white markings in the form of an X, though the nature of the contest is obscure. The inn on the left has the sign of the Magpie.

Teniers was born in Antwerp, where he was a pupil of his father David Teniers I. He moved to Brussels in 1651 and became court painter to the Archduke Leopold Wilhelm, Governor of the Netherlands, and curator of his picture collection. Teniers's earliest works are peasant interiors in the manner of Adriaen Brouwer; from about 1640 he combined landscapes with scenes of peasant life.

Current Accession Number WM 1581–1948
Inscription front lr (below cloth) 'DAVID TENIERS FC'; front lc (on the Magpie board) '1639'; front (inventory number) ‘894’
Subject figure; animal (dog); landscape; buildings and gardens; everyday life
Measurements 58 x 119 cm (estimate)
Material oil on canvas

The 1829 Emmerson sale catalogue notes: ‘The two following Noble Specimens of Teniers were taken by Joseph Buonaparte to America, from whence they were sent to Paris, where they were recently purchased of his agent'. (The so-called ‘pendant' to WM 1581 in this sale, lot 159, is The Bleaching Ground now in The Barber Institute of Fine Arts, Birmingham, inv. 47.1; canvas, 85 x 120.5 cm). Though nearly identical in size, the two paintings can hardly be pendants, as the scale of the figures differs considerably.) In 1825 and 1826, Bonaparte (under the pseudonym, ‘the Count de Survelliers') exhibited two landscapes with figures by Teniers at the American Academy of Fine Arts, New York (American Academy of Fine Arts and American Art Union … 1816–1852, ed. M.B. Cowdrey, New York, 1953, II, p. 347), but without further details it cannot be confirmed that WM 1581 was one of these works. In late autumn 1826, Bonaparte sent a small group of pictures (including an Adoration of the Magi and a Fêtes de Village by Teniers) to London to be sold at auction by his agents, Sampson Batard; according to Batard: ‘the prices you have fixed … will very much impede the sale from their being so extremely high' (P.T. Stroud, The Man who had been King: the American Exile of Napoleon's Brother, Philadelphia, c. 2005, p. 133.).

The 1st Duke of Wellington owned fifteen paintings by Teniers – most of them from the Spanish royal collection. Ten are now in the Wellington Museum, and five remain in the present Duke's collection (Wellington 1901, nos. 13, 14, 16, 31, 237).

For Teniers see exh. cat., Antwerp, Koninklijk Museum voor Schone Kunsten, David Teniers The Younger: Paintings, Drawings, 1991; exh. cat., Karlsruhe, Staatlichen Kunsthalle, David Teniers der Jüngere, 1610–1690: Alltag und Vergnügen in Flandern, 2005–06.

Rights Owner Copyright English Heritage
Author C.M. Kauffmann, revised by Susan Jenkins



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