Jan Brueghel I (1568-1625)
Born in Brussels, the son of Pieter Bruegel the Elder, he was a versatile painter of landscapes, flower pieces and allegorical subjects. There are six works by Brueghel in the Wellington Collection, five on display to the public.
His paintings are jewel-like and meticulous. This work is only 26cm by 37cm and painted on copper. It is a testament to Brueghel’s skill in depicting animals – note the array of birds and small animals in the foreground.
Several of the animals were inspired by Rubens, with whom Bruegel was a close friend and collaborator. The horse is derived from Rubens’ painting ‘Riding School’.
Nicolaes Maes (1634-1693)
This is a companion painting to The Eavesdropper, and part of a series of paintings by Maes which show saleswomen in front of houses, many of which depict milkwomen.
The gateway shown in the picture to the left is in Dordrecht, where the artist lived until 1673.
A woman from the countryside can be seen entering, her yoke hung with milk jug and pail, a scence that could have been found in most Dutch towns.
The old woman leaning out of her door is carefully counting her coins which in turn are being scrutinised by the milkwoman who dominates the canvas.
The painting dates to the mid- to late 1650s.
Nicolaes Maes (1634-1693)
The woman descending the steps with her finger raised to her lips is probably the lady of the house. She is tiptoeing down from what looks like a household office and is just about to catch a maid neglecting her duties.
The lady in the foreground invites us into the painting and we can see the background scene of the maid and her lover in conversation while the baby’s cradle is ignored at her feet.
In the 1650s Maes painted six variations of this theme and was one of the first Dutch artists to show views into other rooms which contained part of the narrative of the painting.
Jan Steen (1625/26-1679)
Steen was born in Leiden and was a pupil of Jan van Goyen, and worked both in Delft and The Hague.
Steen favoured these vibrant and riotous scenes of Dutch life painted with meticulous attention to detail. He is also known for his moralising portrayals of peasant life.
The bride and groom are difficult to spot sitting under the central wreath at the back of the picture. The wedding guests are engaged in games, music and even dancing on the table. The man in the foreground is intended as a self-portrait.
The artist kept an inn in Leiden so was probably used to lively drunken scenes.
David Teniers the Younger (1610-1690)
Born in Antwerp, where he was a pupil of his father, David Teniers I, he was one of the most prolific Flemish artists.
Teniers specialised in scenes of peasant life. Whether portraying village games, festivals or pastoral scenes, he excelled at showing the intimate details of country life.
The ‘Village Festival’ is full of activity and characters; a group of women running a race; the inn keeper, in his white apron, drinking the health of the winner of another game. A group of men in the foreground are caught up in their own activity of drinking and talking.