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Peasants Smoking in an Inn

Peasants Smoking in an Inn

c. 1640

David Teniers

(Flemish, 1610-1690)

Oil on wood

Framed: 46.5 x 37 x 4 cm (18 5/16 x 14 9/16 x 1 9/16 in.); Unframed: 37.2 x 26.3 cm (14 5/8 x 10 3/8 in.)

Gift of Mr. and Mrs. J. H. Wade 1916.1046

Description

David Teniers the Younger (1610-1690) was a popular artist who specialized in small paintings of rustic contemporary Flemish life in the seventeenth century. In works such as Peasants Smoking in an Inn, ca. 1640, an older man and a younger man in the foreground smoke tobacco. The younger man rests limply against the wall and his head lolls back, gesture that in contemporary times symbolized that he had overindulged in smoke. Another standing man prepares his pipe and watches the younger man with amusement. Tobacco was a novelty in the seventeenth century, introduced from the Americas and East Indies with other new imports such as sugar cane and rice, and was believed to be a medicinal product. It was particularly recommended for people who lived in "waterish places", such as Antwerp, the capital of Flanders, where Teniers painted this scene. Although many medical practitioners believed tobacco to be a cure for numerous ailments, moral opponents to smoking criticized it as a danger to health and morals. The mixed reputation and widespread popularity of tobacco smoking thus made it a marketable and amusing subject for Flemish artists such as Teniers.

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