David Teniers the Younger was an important Flemish artist who specialised in peasant scenes.
Our bucolic, Arcadian painting must date from the 1640s, that is from the last decennium that Teniers spent in his birthplace Antwerp, before leaving for Brussels.
The shepherd stands for a happy, stress-free life in an unspoiled nature.
About David Teniers II
Antwerp 1610 – 1690 Brussels
Important versatile painter of genre scenes, landscapes, still lifes, portraits and historic scenes.
Son and pupil of David I Teniers (1587-1649) who was a history and genre painter. David I was probably a pupil of his older brother Juliaen I (1572 – 1615).
Brother and probably master of Abraham Teniers (1629 – 1670) who was a genre scene painter.
Father of David III Teniers (1638 – 1685) who was an important tapestry cartoon painter.
David II’s wife was Anna Brueghel (1619 – 1656), the daughter of Jan Brueghel I (1568-1625) and sister of Ambrosius and of Jan Brueghel II.
Teniers was active in his native Antwerp until 1650, where he developed
a good relationship with Sir Peter Paul Rubens (1577-1640).
From 1650 until his death in 1690 he lived in Brussels. He became the court painter of Archduke Leopold Wilhelm (1614-1662), the governor of the Spanish Netherlands (Flanders), who was a keen art lover, and his work was quickly imitated and copied. Teniers was also appointed as the keeper of the Archduke’s collection of pictures (now at the Kunsthistorisches Museum of Vienna).
The next governor, Don Juan of Austria, was also a patron of Teniers, as was Prince William of Orange, Queen Christina of Sweden, and most notably King Philip IV of Spain.
About our painting
Our painting gives an idealised, decorative vision of nature and of reality: Arcadia. This Arcadia stood for an unspoiled, harmonious, Mediterranean nature, uncorrupted by civilization. It was regarded as unattainable or as a lost. The ancient Greek province of Arcadia was known for its mountainous geography and sparse population.
Typical of Arcadian representations is the shepherd playing flute for the animals. Clearly a distant reminder of Orpheus who in classical mythology would play the harp.
Arcadia had alreacdy become an idealised phantasy dreamland in 16th century poetry. Best known are:
- the popular pastoral tragicomedy “il pastor fido” by Battista Guarini (1590);
- the translation in Dutch by Karel van Mander of the “Bucolics” of the Roman poet Virgil (1597);
- the famous play “Granida” by Pieter Cornelisz. Hooft (1605).
These books were of course inspired by the earlier classical examples of Roman pastoral poetry of rural life:
- “Beatus ille” by Horace;
- “De Bucolica” and “De Georgica” by Virgil.
These books had been rediscoverd in 1502 by Jacopo Sannazaro and were rapidly translated in Dutch.
Teniers started painting scenes of rural life from the 1640s onwards: up til 1650, when he moved from Antwerp to Brussels, he favoured scenes of peace and rest, while after 1650 he would prefer painting farmers at work.
One of the pair of small shepherd scenes in the private Count Carl-Alexander Wachtmeister in Wonas in Sweden stands very close to our painting. That pair dates according to Margaret Klinge from the 1640s.
Why should you buy this painting?
Because it is a beautiful ode to a harmonius life with nature.