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Interior of a Guardroom

Accession Number

Interior of a Guardroom

David Teniers the Younger

Object Creation Date

Medium & Support
oil on panel

29 13/16 x 39 3/8 x 2 1/2 in. (75.57 x 100.01 x 6.35 cm);29 13/16 x 39 3/8 x 2 1/2 in. (75.57 x 100.01 x 6.35 cm)

Credit Line
Museum Purchase

Label copy
March 28 2009
David Teniers the Younger enjoyed great fame and prosperity during his career, becoming a court painter at the Spanish Habsburg court in Brussels and eventually achieving noble status in 1663—a comment on the rising social status of artists. In this painting from his earlier years, Teniers portrays with striking realism an imagined scene of soldiers at leisure, smoking, drinking, and gambling while their equipment lies piled to one side. Guardroom scenes depicting the barren and tedious everyday life of soldiers became an established genre among Dutch painters by the 1620s, a reflection of the warfare that raged between Flanders, ruled by the Habsburg emperors, and the Netherlands to the north, which fought to free itself from imperial control. Although Teniers worked in the Flemish city of Antwerp, this painting reveals the influence that Dutch artists exercised over Teniers and his clientele.

Subject matter
This painting depicts with striking realism an imagined scene of civic guards at leisure. The realistic impression made by the painting depends in part upon the painstaking rendition of objects and details throughout the room: the ceramic jugs, a wooden table, a piece of crumpled paper, the dull glint of a lantern near the ceiling, and the tour-de-force still-life of military equipment all contribute to the painting's seeming veracity. The fact that the men are engaged in everyday activities of smoking, drinking, gambling and conversing contributes to the impression that we are looking upon an actual scene that Teniers simply transcribed with his brush.

Physical Description
Groups of men gamble, smoke, and drink in a dark guardroom. In the left foreground a seated man wearing a red sash lights his white clay pipe, while his companion pauses his smoking to listen to a man standing next to him. The red of the smoker's sash is repeated in the flag and fabrics strewn about in the right foreground, which form part of a still-life of weapons, musical instruments, and glinting armor heaped together against the wall. Between these brightly lit foreground vignettes the scene recedes into the darkened interior where a group of five men gather about a table to gamble.

Primary Object Classification

Primary Object Type
panel painting

Collection Area

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armors (object groupings)
drums (membranophones)
genre (visual works)
interior spaces (spaces by location)
smoking (activity)

& Author Notes

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