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Winter
David Teniers the Younger
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Teniers brings the cycle of the seasons full circle – and his series of paintings of the seasons to an end – with an old man representing Winter. Wrapped in velvet and fur, he hunches over to warm his hands at a brazier. His face is lined and wrinkled, his beard long and frosted with white. But his cap with its fur wings gives an impression of speed and strength, like a winter wind.

At first the background seems to suggest a grey walled room with a stone floor, but the misty figures low down are a small, monochrome skating scene. The old man’s chair tips slightly sideways – he is perhaps on a path at the side of a frozen pond.

Key facts
Artist David Teniers the Younger
Artist dates 1610 - 1690
Full title Winter
Group The Four Seasons
Date made about 1644
Medium and support Oil on copper
Dimensions 22.2 x 16.2 cm
Inscription summary Signed
Acquisition credit Bought, 1871
Inventory number NG860
Location in Gallery Not on display
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The Four Seasons

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This series of four small paintings is an allegory of the seasons: spring, summer, autumn and winter have been given human forms that embody the essence of each. Spring is a gardener carrying a tree to plant in a formal garden; Summer is a peasant tying up a sheaf of corn; Autumn is a drinker who raises a glass of wine; and Winter is an old man wearing a fur cap and mantle, warming himself near a brazier.

Strongly influenced early in his career by the Dutch artist Adriaen Brouwer, Teniers became the most famous painter of peasant life of his day, rivalling Brouwer’s rowdy, raunchy tavern scenes full of larger-than-life characters.

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