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David Teniers the Younger, Peasants playing Bowls outside a Village Inn

Key facts
Full title Peasants playing Bowls outside a Village Inn
Artist David Teniers the Younger
Artist dates 1610 - 1690
Date made about 1660
Medium and support Oil on canvas
Dimensions 120.2 × 191 cm
Inscription summary Signed
Acquisition credit Wynn Ellis Bequest, 1876
Inventory number NG951
Location Not on display
Collection Main Collection
Previous owners
Peasants playing Bowls outside a Village Inn
David Teniers the Younger

Teniers’s imaginary landscape shows peasants at their leisure. The sheep on the far side of the river enjoy the best of the fitful sunshine, but with a few strokes of the brush Teniers created a shower of rain over the substantial village and the church in the distance.

The men in the foreground playing bowls are in shadow, though the white shirt of one competitor stands out as he bends to take aim. His target is a stick fixed in the ground rather than a jack and they play on uneven ground rather than grass – far from the smooth lawns used today – but it is essentially the same game.

Images of the activities of peasants appear to have had great appeal to middle-class picture buyers in the seventeenth-century Netherlands, both Holland and Flanders. Teniers made a career of these scenes, and they built up his reputation as well as his wealth.

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