TENIERS, David the Younger
(b. 1610, Antwerpen, d. 1690, Bruxelles)

Guardroom with Monkeys

Oil on panel, 41 x 58 cm
Private collection

In a large, open, barn-like structure, which serves as a guardroom, groups of monkeys wearing soldiers' uniforms are grouped around tables playing cards and back-gammon.

Pictures of monkeys had been popular from the sixteenth-century and it was Teniers who developed the theme in the seventeenth-century. The primary role of the monkey in visual and literary sources of the sixteenth-century was to represent the irrational and foolish side of man's nature, but monkeys also were symbols of sinfulness and seen as devils.