BUYTEWECH, Willem Pietersz.
(b. 1591/92, Rotterdam, d. 1625, Rotterdam)

Merry Company

Oil on canvas, 73 x 65 cm
Szépművészeti Múzeum, Budapest

This is one of the earliest of the middle-class conversation pieces. It is typical of the early phase of Dutch genre painting, as can be seen from the limited amount of background, the figures made to turn so that they can be shown full face, the bright, emphatic and varied colours. A map and musical instruments hang on the wall behind the figures, on the floor are weapons, a metal jug and a goblet, while a tiny monkey balances on the chair. Together these objects create an atmosphere of physical and intellectual pleasure, and suggest the thrill of foreign travel and the conquest of distant lands.