Archduke Leopold William in his Gallery at Brussels by David Teniers the Younger

Archduke Leopold William in his Gallery at Brussels by David Teniers the Younger (1651)

The other day whilst researching the family tree of the Bruegels I came across the Teniers, an artistic family who had a connection with Peter Bruegel as David Teniers the Younger was married to Anna Brueghel, the daughter of Jan Brueghel the Elder and granddaughter of Pieter Bruegel the Elder. 

David Teniers the Younger, a Flemish artist of the Baroque period, was born in Antwerp in 1610.  His father David Teniers the Elder, his son and his grandson were also celebrated artists.   However he has always been looked upon as the most accomplished painter of the Teniers’s dynasty.   He was a prolific painter with over two thousand pictures attributed to him.  He was influenced by the Flemish painter Adriaen Brouwer.   Many of his greatest works were completed between 1640 and 1650.  He painted almost every genre of picture but his favourite appears to be that of peasant life.  A century later a number of these paintings were made into designs for tapestries.  Like his wife’s grandfather, Pieter Bruegel the Elder David Teniers the Younger was a master of portraying crowd scenes with each of his figures displayed with a tender, human and often amusing touch.   A good example of that would be a painting he completed in 1646 entitled The Village Fête

David Teniers married Anna Brueghel in 1637.  In 1647 he and his family moved to Brussels and became the court painter and the keeper of the art collections of the then regent of the Netherlands, the archduke Leopold William,  who was a great art lover and who spent an immense fortune in acquiring paintings.  He was by far the most important collector of paintings among the Habsburgs.  Whilst curator of the royal art gallery he took time to make small-scale paintings of some of the works in the gallery by the foreign artists, especially those of Italian artists, for use by engravers who produced the illustrations.  He painted many views of Leopold William’s picture gallery and today’s offering for My Daily Art Display is one he painted in 1651 entitled Archduke Leopold William in his Gallery in Brussels, which portrays  the archduke along with his paintings in a fictionalized gallery setting and which now hangs in the Kunsthistoriches Museum, Vienna.

Leopold William is portrayed on a visit to his own gallery accompanied by his courtiers and Teniers himself.  These “gallery interiors”, a traditional genre in the Netherlands, were sent as gifts to other princely collections.   Today’s painting was owned by Leopold William’s brother, Emperor Ferdinand III, in Prague.  There are fifty one Italian paintings depicted in this picture, some of which have had their proportions altered to achieve an impression of decorative profusion.  They are from the collection of the Duke of Hamilton, from whom Leopold William had purchased them, shortly before this painting was commissioned.    Most of the paintings are now housed in the Kunsthistoriches Museum, Vienna.

I wonder how many you can recognise.