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The Covetous Man
David Teniers the Younger
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In one of his parables, Christ told of a rich man who squirrelled away his grain and his goods, hoarding them to ensure his future comfort instead of using them for charitable deeds. But God commanded that the man’s time to die had come: ‘Thou fool, this night thy soul shall be required of thee: then whose shall those things be, which thou hast provided?’ (Luke 12: 20).

In this powerful piece of storytelling, Teniers has drawn on his ability to show character and incident with an insightful brush. He has lit up the faces of both figures, unsparing in his depiction of greed and covetousness. The old woman weighs coins but stares at the old man with hard eyes. He seems almost unaware of her, gazing out across the pile of deeds and glinting coins on the table. In the shadows behind the pair, an hourglass symbolises that the old man’s time is near.

Key facts
Artist David Teniers the Younger
Artist dates 1610 - 1690
Full title The Covetous Man
Date made about 1648
Medium and support Oil on canvas
Dimensions 62.5 x 85 cm
Inscription summary Signed; Inscribed
Acquisition credit Bequeathed by Lord Farnborough, 1838
Inventory number NG155
Location in Gallery Not on display
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