David Teniers the Younger was one of the most successful Flemish painters of the seventeenth century. His work was prized by important collectors, and he amassed great wealth and attained high status himself: he was awarded a patent of nobility in 1680. At this time there was a fashion for pictures of peasant life, often in the interior of an inn and with characters larger than life, as in this painting.
The woman lighting her pipe glares at the self-confident young man, his red hat at a jaunty angle, who holds up his glass of ale. She blows smoke, her lips pursed in his direction, as the man behind her puts a hand on her shoulder in a kindly gesture. Behind them, another person approaches a figure slumped by the fire, perhaps asleep, perhaps drunk. Teniers left the viewer to interpret the expressions and gestures he portrayed.
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