|Title||Out-gaping an Oven|
|Collection||Leamington Spa Art Gallery & Museum|
|Artist||After Teniers, David, II (Flemish painter, 1610-1690)|
|Date Earliest||possibly about 1800|
|Date Latest||possibly about 1850|
|Description||The scene is a copy of a detail from the large Proverbs painting by David Teniers the Younger, from the late 1640s, now in the collection of the Duke of Rutland in Belvoir Castle. It depicts the Dutch proverb 'to gape against an oven' or, in the medieval version, 'he who would out-gape an oven will have to gape for a long time'. In other words, there is no point in trying to achieve the impossible, as the mouth of an oven will always gape wider. The proverb was very popular and can be found on numerous medieval corbels, capitals and misericords in the Netherlands and Flanders. It also appeared in Pieter Bruegel's 1559 Proverbs painting in Berlin.|
|Current Accession Number||LEAMG:A381.1953|
|Subject||allegory (proverb); figure; interior|
|Measurements||24.8 x 32.8 cm cm (estimate)|
|Material||oil on panel|
|Acquisition Details||Bequeathed by Captain Mark Field 1953.|
|Publications||Davidson, J. P., David Teniers the Younger, London, 1980; Klinge, M., David Teniers de Jonge: Schilderijen - Tekeningen, exh. cat., Ghent, 1991; Brouwer, A., David Teniers the Younger, Noordman & Brod, loan exh., London, 1982; Smith, J., Catalogue raisonné, vol. 4, 1842.|
Teniers's father and son were Antwerp painters. David Teniers the Elder (1582-1649) studied with Rubens and later travelled to Rome, where he studied with the German landscape painter Adam Elsheimer (1578-1610) before returning to Antwerp, where he became Master in 1606. Whereas he painted mostly religious and genre scenes in the Mannerist style, his son, although trained by his father, painted in a very different style, specializing in scenes of everyday life and allegories, although he also painted religious and mythological themes. He became best known for his peasant scenes in the style of Adriaen Brouwer (1605/6-38). This specialist genre may have originated in Flanders, but it later also became popular amongst Dutch painters, especially Adriaen van de Venne and Adriaen and Isack van Ostade.
Teniers II became Master of the guild of St Luke in Antwerp and was to help found the Antwerp Academy in 1663. As Court Painter in Brussels (from 1647) to the Regent of the Southern Netherlands for Spain, Archduke Leopold Wilhelm of Austria, he was responsible for producing a catalogue of the archducal paintings and for copying major works in the collection with a view to including them as engravings in the illustrated catalogue, the Theatricum Pictorium (1658).
Teniers II married a daughter of Jan Brueghel the Elder and carefully studied the work of Pieter Bruegel the Elder, although it was particularly the iconography of Pieter Brueghel the Younger that influenced his work. Pieter II painted at least sixteen copies of his father's Flemish Proverbs, of which Teniers II painted his own version, with changes in the composition and a few additional proverbs in his mature period in the late 1640s. This painting is now in the collection of the Duke of Rutland at Belvoir Castle. Pieter II's influence can also be observed in other works by Teniers II, some of which depict the same subject. Teniers's works include The Temptations of St Anthony and The Seven Acts of Mercy (Louvre), and many boerenkermis scenes or peasant fairs. His style developed from one closely related to that of Brouwer to a more classicistic one between about 1640 and 1655, followed by a clear deterioration in the quality of his later work when he repeated earlier themes over and over again, but with a less certain touch and colouring.
The pose of the figure led to the earlier mistaken title of the painting, The Thirsty Peasant, probably based on the assumption that the figure is calling for a drink. Here the same figure in a similar blue jacket (here probably painted in Prussian blue) is sitting near an oven outside a house. The limitations of the copyist show themselves in the way he handled the areas hidden behind other elements in the original painting, such as the lower part of the oven and the left foot of the peasant, as well as the very flat background.
The limitations of the copyist show themselves in the way he handled the areas hidden behind other elements in the original painting, such as the lower part of the oven and the left foot of the peasant, as well as the very flat background. It is not clear when or why this particular proverb was copied as an independent scene, or whether its meaning was understood at the time. The copy is certainly not contemporary, but likely to date from the nineteenth century.
The original Teniers painting on canvas measures 129.5 x 208.3 inches and contains 43 proverbs, some of which were additions by Teniers not included in Pieter Brueghel the Younger's many versions of his father's famous Proverbs painting. It was clearly an ambitious painting, larger than most of Teniers's other works, and may have been specially commissioned. The painting was purchased for £1,600 by one of the Duke of Rutland's ancestors.
It was thought that a monogram resembling a version of that of Van Ostade was in the top right-hand corner of this painting, but this mark is actually part of the restoration.
|Rights Owner||Leamington Spa Art Gallery & Museum (Warwick District Council)|