TENIERS, David the Younger
(b. 1610, Antwerpen, d. 1690, Bruxelles)
The Kermis at the Half Moon Inn (detail)1641
Oil on canvas
At the left of the action, albeit as non-participant observers, we see a group of distinguished and elaborately dressed townsfolk. Arranged almost as if in a group portrait, and with a stiff and measured air, they form the greatest conceivable contrast to the lively dancing farmers to their right. A potentially explosive attempt is being made to establish contact between the two groups: a farmer has taken a lady by the hand and invited her to dance, but he encounters resistance. His aim is to draw her from her safe position of observer into the actual swing of the kermis. The farmer's wife, suckling her child, watches suspiciously from a distance. This group of townsfolk can be interpreted as a reflexive break in the representation.
Also worthy of mention is the depiction within the painting of farming implements, arranged by the fence like a still-life; this device is often to be found in Teniers's work and reveals his artistic self-confidence. Not content with specialising in a single genre, he demands rather the special recognition of the connoisseur.