Friday, 7 October 2016

The Drummer Signed and dated 1647

David Teniers the Younger (Antwerp 1610-Brussels 1690) Royal Collection
 Military subjects were popular on either side of the frontier during the Eighty Years War (1568-1648). The most common image of the soldier’s life was the guard-room scene, a glamorous version of the tavern scene, where soldiers smoke, drink and play cards. This painting may have been executed for Teniers’s master, the Archduke Leopold William, who was commander-in-chief of the Spanish army in Flanders. It is rare in depicting the camp rather than the guard-room, but tries to convey the same aimless boredom of military life. Almost all military scenes provide an excuse for the artist to depict a still life of as many different weapons as possible; the glint of light off steel is rendered especially effectively here on this painting executed on the reflective medium of copper. Flemish artists like Jan Brueghel had made a speciality of depicting allegorical figures surrounded by the attributes or results of the thing they personify: the element of Fire, for example, might be surrounded by a huge pile of metal objects which had been created in the heat of a forge. The same convention is employed here and in the Old Woman peeling Turnips (Royal Collection); she could be an allegory of hearth and home balanced by a pile of vegetables; the drummer here could be an allegory of war matched by a pile of armour. Signed and dated lower left: D. TENIERS.F.1647

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