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

Merry Company

Oil on canvas, 61 x 81 cm
Staatliche Museen, Berlin

In the late 1610s Willem Buytewech began to paint scenes of fancily attired youth drinking, making music, and courting. In this characteristic work a brightly coloured group of four men and two women fully occupies a shallow interior, pressing on us their enjoyment of music, wine, and those notorious aphrodisiacs, oysters. But rather than communicating an obvious narrative, the figures are posed in attitudes of merriment, swagger, and romance.

This company originally alluded more blatantly to illicit pleasure, as the man at left held a chamber pot, a fixture of brothel scenes. The offensive item was painted out early in the twentieth century, when the man's hand was repainted as resting on the chair.

© Web Gallery of Art, created by Emil Krén and Daniel Marx.