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Title Flemish Village Merrymaking
Alternative Title The Archers’ Feast
Collection Colchester Museums
Artist Attributed to Vinckboons, David (Flemish painter, 1576-ca. 1632)
Previously attributed to Bruegel, Pieter, the elder (Flemish painter, ca. 1525-1569)
Date Earliest possibly about 1600
Date Latest possibly about 1610
Description Born in Flanders in 1576, David Vinckboons moved from Flanders to Amsterdam with his Protestant family to escape religious persecution. After some initial training with his father, a watercolour painter, Vinckboons turned to oil painting and helped to introduce the Flemish tradition of genre painting, most closely associated with the work of Pieter Bruegel, to the new Dutch Republic. The elevated, or ‘rooftop', viewpoint of this fine painting is in keeping with the artist's earlier work, suggesting that the work was made during or near the first decade of the seventeenth century. The device allows the artist to include a great amount of detail into a relatively compact scene. He has depicted a village bustling with activity, where fashionably dressed city types mingle with shopkeepers, peasants and beggars, and where religious festivities, focused on the church in the middle distance, are combined with the more raucous behaviour of the tavern and fair. Such juxtapositions are typical of the kind of merrymaking scenes that were popular during the early part of the seventeenth century (and which were sometimes sold at village festivals like the one depicted here). They give the painting a comic appeal, but also introduce a moral subtext to the work by pointing to the potential imbalance between piety and earthly pleasures that such occasions could encourage. Vinckboons was a painter of considerable range and influence. Some of his village scenes are more highly charged politically, portraying the uneasy relationship between the local villagers and the Spanish military during the Netherlandish revolt. Other paintings depict the more fashionable entertainments of Dutch high society, prefiguring the decadent fête galantes of Jean-Antoine Watteau a century later. Although a popular and prolific artist, considered by contemporaries to be one of the best painters working in Amsterdam, Vinckboons apparently died in relative poverty.
Current Accession Number COLEM:118A
Subject townscape; everyday life; figure; animal (dog; duck; horse); buildings and gardens
Measurements 76.8 x 109.2 cm cm (estimate)
Material oil on panel (hardwood {oak})
Acquisition Details Given by Charles Godfrey of Hythe House, Thames Ditton, in commemoration of the 60th anniversary of his appointment as High Bailiff of the Essex County Courts 1918.
Notes A copy of a short but informative unpublished essay on this painting, by Pamela Shorrocks, is kept in the records of Colchester Museums.
Rights Owner Colchester and Ipswich Museums
Author Richard Johns



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