Search the Collections

David Teniers the Younger
Birth Date: 
Birth Place: 
Death Date: 
Death Place: 
David Teniers the Younger was one of the most important genre painters in the southern Netherlands during the 17th century. He was a prolific artist who created over a thousand paintings over a long career. Born in 1610 in Antwerp, he was trained by his father, David Teniers the Elder (1582-1649), an art dealer and history painter. Teniers the Younger entered the artists’ Guild of St. Luke as a master during the Guild’s year 1632-1633. While he painted numerous small religious scenes during the 1630s, he quickly became very successful by painting peasant genre scenes that were strongly influenced by the work of the Flemish painter Adriaen Brouwer (ca. 1605-1638), who had settled in Antwerp around 1631 after working in Amsterdam and Haarlem. Teniers also created scenes of elegantly-dressed middle-class burghers and grotto landscapes. In 1637 he married Anna Brueghel (1620-1656), the daughter of Jan Brueghel the Elder (1568-1625). She brought with her a dowry, an allowance and a friendship with Peter Paul Rubens (1577-1640); and the couple moved into her late father’s house. Teniers’ economic success gave him some social prominence; he was an official of the St. Jacobskerk from 1637 to 1639 and was the dean of the Guild of St. Luke during 1644-45. He established a large workshop, with students including his son David Teniers III (1638-1685). His prosperity during the 1640s allowed him to rent a country manor, which he would buy in 1662. From the 1640s he painted more outdoor scenes of peasant fairs and gatherings. During this time he received commissions from Antoine Triest, the Bishop of Bruges (1576-1657) and a commission for a group portrait, The Arquebusiers’ Company (1643, St. Petersburg: Hermitage). In 1647 Teniers received a commission from the new governor of the Spanish Netherlands, Archduke Leopold Wilhelm of Austria (1614-1662). The Archduke became an enthusiastic patron, and in 1651 appointed Teniers to be the court painter and director of his paintings collection. Teniers then moved to Brussels. Later that year Teniers went to London to buy Italian paintings for the Archduke at the sale of the art collection confiscated from the late King Charles I (1600-1649). Teniers helped the Archduke build a formidable collection of paintings, drawings and sculpture, now in the Kunsthistorische Museum, Vienna. Teniers painted at least eight views of the Archduke’s collection. The Archduke commissioned Teniers to create a book of engravings depicting a selection of Italian paintings from the 15th to the 17th centuries in his collection. Teniers (and probably some assistants) made copies of perhaps two hundred of the paintings to serve as models for engravers, a task he did not complete until 1656, a few months after the Archduke left Brussels. The resulting book of 243 reproductive engravings (and four additional prints) made by fourteen engravers, entitled Theatrum Pictorium Davidis Teniers antverpiensis, was published in 1660, with the title page and introductory material printed in Latin, Spanish, French and Dutch. It is often called the first published catalog of a paintings collection. His patron introduced Teniers to a number of other noble patrons, including King Philip IV of Spain (1605-1665), Statholder Willem II of Orange (1626-1650) and Queen Christina of Sweden (1626-1689). In 1656 Teniers bought a building near the Archduke’s palace, which he remodeled into a home and studio. His wife Anna died that year, and he married Isabelle de Fren (1624-1686), the daughter of the secretary of the Council of Brabant, who brought a rich dowry to the marriage. He continued to serve as the court painter for the new Spanish governor, Don Juan of Austria (1629-1679), during the three years he was governor. Although an earlier application for elevation to the nobility had been denied, in 1663 Philip IV granted Teniers noble status. He founded an art academy in Antwerp in 1665 with the patronage of Philip IV. Late in his life his children from his first marriage started legal proceedings against Teniers, which continued until after he died. He continued to paint until at least 1680, and died in Brussels on April 25, 1690. (TNB 2/2013). Selected bibliography: Van Claerbergen, Ernst Vegelin, ed. David Teniers and the Theatre of Painting. Exhibition catalog. Courtauld Institute of Art, London, 2006. Klinge, Margret. Adriaen Brouwer and David Teniers the Younger. Exhibition catalog. New York, Noortman & Brod Gallery, 1982. Sutton, Peter C. The Age of Rubens. Exhibition catalog, with Marjorie E. Wiesman, et al. Pp. 417-425. Boston: Museum of Fine Arts, Ghent: Ludion, 1993.