The centrepiece of this room is an idealised view of a 17th-century Flemish collection. This painting is surrounded by pictures similar to those included in the imaginary collector’s cabinet. Specialist artists in Antwerp catered for the demand for small-scale paintings depicting subjects as varied as imaginary galleries, biblical stories, church interiors, allegories and scenes of peasant life.
Adriaen Brouwer and David Teniers the Younger often set their scenes of everyday life in humble kitchens or rowdy taverns. Their depictions of peasants’ debauched behaviour showed rich art buyers a profoundly different way of life and allowed them to enjoy their own perceived superiority. The outrageous facial expressions found in Brouwer’s works, as well as the spontaneity of his sketchy brushwork, gained him the patronage of his fellow painters Rubens and Rembrandt.