TENIERS, David the Younger
(b. 1610, Antwerpen, d. 1690, Bruxelles)
The Village Feast1646
Oil on canvas, 98 x 130 cm
The Hermitage, St. Petersburg
The Flemish genre painter David Teniers the Younger had been painting peasant festivities since 1637, maintaining into the 1660s the tradition of Pieter Brueghel the Elder and his pictures of village weddings. The breadth of pictorial space in this painting indicates that it is one of his later works.
Popular celebrations such as this served to channel and tame the latently rebellious energies of the peasantry. In sixteenth-century German and Netherlandish portrayals of rural merry-making, the viewer was not intended to identify with the celebrations but rather to become aware of his own social and moral superiority over the feckless peasants. With the advent of the new century, however, the function of the genre was to change, and Teniers here inclines toward a more amused and humorous depiction of country life.