Peasants in an Interior

Accession Number

Peasants in an Interior

Bartholomeus Molenaer

Artist Nationality
Dutch (culture or style)

Object Creation Date

Medium & Support
oil on panel

10 11/16 in x 13 in (27.15 cm x 33.02 cm);18 3/10 in x 20 ½ in (46.51 cm x 52.07 cm)

Credit Line
Gift of Mrs. Mae B. Smyd, in memory of Dr. Edwin S. Smyd

Label copy
March 28, 2009
This small view of boorish peasants gathered to drink and smoke in a dark, squalid tavern would have hung in a middle-class Dutch home and given its bourgeois owners a scene of comedic delight. In details such as the red-capped man leaning on a barrel, a tankard of cheap beer at his feet, one can almost smell the mingled rank odors of the tavern and hear the muttering voices of its lowbrow patrons. Yet the coarse character of the peasants and their surroundings reflect middle-class prejudices more than reality. Perhaps the owners of the painting were amused when looking at figures they would have regarded as uncouth, disorderly, and certainly their social and economic inferiors—country bumpkins compared to their own mercantile successes. In the contrast between the dank tavern scene and their own clean-swept, well-ordered home, owners of paintings such as this might have found a comforting affirmation of their self-ascribed superiority.

Subject matter
A group of peasants, consisting mostly of men, are gathered in a dark interior to smoke, drink, and converse.

Physical Description
Groups of figures sit crowded around tables in a dark, smoky interior. In the foreground a man dressed in white hose and a red cap leans on a barrel, his tankard placed at his feet, and looks directly ahead out of the scene. To his left several men cluster around a table to drink and smoke, while other dimly lit figures sit and move about in the background.

Primary Object Classification

Primary Object Type
panel painting

Collection Area

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barrels (containers)
drinking vessels
genre (visual works)
oil paintings (visual works)

4 Related Resources

Food Cultures
(Part of 4 Learning Collections)
Sociability and Social Spaces
(Part of 4 Learning Collections)
Early Modern European Peasants
(Part of 10 Learning Collections)

& Author Notes

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