TENIERS, David the Younger
(b. 1610, Antwerpen, d. 1690, Bruxelles)
Oil on copper, 75 x 77,8 cm
Mauritshuis, The Hague
It was part of the 17th-century aristocratic feast to include artistically moulded creations made from luxury food or shaped as pies. This formed part of 'display meals' which - as the name suggests - were indeed intended rather to delight the eye than the palate. On the other hand, it was also possible to combine both. This painting contains a swan pie - a festive decoration which has apparently only just been finished in the kitchen. Underneath the swan there was a real, edible pie (though probably not made from the flesh of a swan, which would have tasted rather too oily). The swan itself consisted the stuffed bird, decorated with a crown.
Teniers's painting contained allusions to the political situation at the time. The crust of the pie is decorated with the double eagle of the House of Habsburg, and suspended from the swan's neck there is an emblem showing folded hands and a burning heart as symbols of the Christian faith.