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David Teniers the Younger, A View of a Village

Key facts
Full title A View of a Village with Three Peasants talking in the Foreground
Artist David Teniers the Younger
Artist dates 1610 - 1690
Date made about 1645
Medium and support Oil on canvas
Dimensions 112.5 × 166.7 cm
Inscription summary Signed
Acquisition credit Wynn Ellis Bequest, 1876
Inventory number NG950
Location Not on display
Collection Main Collection
Previous owners
A View of a Village
David Teniers the Younger

David Teniers painted caricatures in imaginary landscapes, a background to his comic characters. Here, three men stand facing each other in a circle. One reaches into an inner pocket and looks with a shifty half-smile at the man in the blue coat, whose straight back hints at a military background. The old man on the left leans heavily on his stick, but the jaunty feather in his cap implies that he isn’t as feeble as he appears.

They resemble traditional characters from the ancient Greek comedy that still existed in the form of the Italian commedia dell’arte: Harlequin, the trickster; Pantalone, old and doddery but with his wits about him; and the Captain, a show-off and a coward at heart. And the man running away is a Zanne, an acrobat who would enthusiastically whack people with a slapstick before disappearing at the first sign of trouble.

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