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Robert C. NOORTMAN - Oil on canvas and oil on panel-Robert C. NOORTMAN

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Oil On Canvas And Oil On Panel

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WILLEM VAN HERP (Antwerp 1614 - Antwerp 1677)

Tavern with Merrymakers and Card Players
Oil on copper: 79 x 100 cm/ 31 x 39 1/4 inches
A barn interior is crowded with people that are amusing themselves. At the left, near the fireplace, a pretty maidservant attracts the attention of at least four men two of which display their interest in her delicacies rather conspicuously. The young woman is making faint efforts to free herself from the embracement of a drunken peasant but the expression on her face does not betray any objection at all. Moreover, the other peasant that is taking more serious liberties by letting his hand disappear under her apron, apparently, is allowed to carry on this conduct undisturbed. A small girl witnesses this act of lewdness in full amazement and her expression has been rendered masterfully by the artist. The right section of the composition is occupied by a company smoking, drinking and playing cards. A small sheet fixed to the back wall appears to be a print showing Christ on the cross who is actually overseeing this excessive feasting. Although van Herp included the presence of Christ as a moral comment Peter Sutton was right in observing that it is unlikely the artist ?intended a hectoring warning?. Compared to the gross peasant scenes by Adriaen Brouwer from which all later low life genre depictions in Flanders derived, the activities that van Herp represented seem ?surprisingly tame and decorous?. The present picture is one of van Herp?s most elaborate genre scenes. The artist must have deemed it a master piece for he repeated the composition on panel. The use of copper for pictures of such huge dimensions is unusual though several other examples of large scaled pictures on copper by van Herp are recorded. The smooth surface of the metal is well suited to the depiction of the rich accumulation of details.

Provenance:
Private collection, Europe (as unattributed)
Sale, London (Sotheby?s), 7 December 1988, no. 118, ill.
With French & Company, New York, 1993
Private collection, U.S.A.


Literature:
E. Greindl et al., De Gouden Eeuw van de Vlaamse Schilderkunst, Antwerp 1990, p. 276, ill.

Exhibitions:
Boston, Museum of Fine Arts; Toledo Museum of Art, Rubens and his Age, 1993 (catalogue edited by P. C. Sutton) no. 74, pp. 439,440, illustrated in colour

Artist biography:
Van Herp?s estimated date of birth is based on a document of 1676 in which his age is listed as 62. He trained with

Product description Product description
  • Origin : NETHERLANDS
  • Designer : WILLEM VAN HERP

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