Most of Frans Boels’ gouaches show Biblical or mythological scenes or hunting parties; the present picture is exceptional in his oeuvre as a secular portrayal of village life. The group of merrymaking peasants in the lower right is particularly significant, as it is one of the earliest depictions of a Brueghelian peasant scene in the Northern Netherlands. Boels emigrated from Antwerp to Amsterdam in 1584, along with Hans Bol, and the artists are credited with introducing the theme of peasant revelry into Dutch art. The subject would be taken up by artists such as Karel van Mander and David Vinckboons in the later 1590s and the first years of the 1600s before becoming a major genre of seventeenth-century Dutch painting.
Only one other signed work by Boels has appeared at auction in the last 30 years (New York, Sotheby’s, January 22, 2004, lot 3).
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