Lot 1
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David Teniers the Younger

100,000 - 150,000 GBP
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  • David Teniers the Younger
  • A countryside inn with revellers enjoying an afternoon's drinking, the innkeeper chopping wood in the foreground, and a pastoral landscape beyond
  • signed and dated on a rock lower centre left: D.TENIERS. F / Ao 1654
    with the State Hermitage Museum inventory number lower right: 1607
  • oil on canvas


Louis de Gand de Mérode de Montmorency, Prince d'Isenghien (1678–1762), Marshal of France in 1741;
Acquired from the above by Catherine II of Russia (1729–96), and recorded in the Palace of the Hermitage by 1842;
The State Hermitage Museum, St. Petersburg;
Anonymous sale, Lucerne, Fischer, 18 August 1931, lot 262, reproduced plate XVI;
Dr. Axel Wenner-Gren, Stockholm;
By whose Estate sold, London, Sotheby's, 24 March 1965, lot 50, to Saxenberg for £5,000;
Private collection, Montreal;
By whom sold, New York, Sotheby's, 9 January 1980, lot 90, for $230,000 to David Koetser;
With David Koetser, Zurich;
Acquired from the above by the late owners in May 1980 for CHF 780,000.


Karlstad, Sweden, Värmlands Museum, 1940, cat. no. 16.


J. Smith,  Supplement to the catalogue raisonné..., vol. IX, London 1842, p. 419, no. 43;
G.F. Waagen, Die Gemäldesammlung in der Kaiserlichen Ermitage zu St. Petersburg, Munich 1864, p. 160;
A. Rosenberg, David Teniers der Jüngere, Bielefeld & Leipzig 1895, p. 23, reproduced fig. 28; 2nd edition, 1901, reproduced fig. 34;
A. Somof, Ermitage Impérial. Catalogue de la Galerie des Tableaux, vol. II, St. Petersburg 1901, p. 412, no. 676;
A. von Wurzbach, Niedlerländisches Künstlerlexikon, Vienna & Leipzig 1910, vol. II, p. 696;
M. Klinge, David Teniers der Jüngere 16101690, exhibition catalogue, Karlsruhe 2005, p. 38, reproduced fig. 16.

Anonymous, 'Le fendeur de bois'.


The canvas has a sound and fairly recent relining. The painting has fairly recently been cleaned and restored, presumably circa 1980, and is in excellent overall condition. The paint surface appears extremely well preserved, with little or no sign of wear and much original impasto and texture retained. There are two minor old repaired vertical scratches in the sky upper centre, one of 5 cm and the other 10 cm, and some further retouching to the margin above them. An area around the grilled window on the right, above the woodcutter's axe, has also been restored. Apart from this intervention is limited to only a few local spot retouchings. The restoration has been very carefully carried out, and has discoloured very slightly.
"In response to your inquiry, we are pleased to provide you with a general report of the condition of the property described above. Since we are not professional conservators or restorers, we urge you to consult with a restorer or conservator of your choice who will be better able to provide a detailed, professional report. Prospective buyers should inspect each lot to satisfy themselves as to condition and must understand that any statement made by Sotheby's is merely a subjective, qualified opinion. Prospective buyers should also refer to any Important Notices regarding this sale, which are printed in the Sale Catalogue.

Catalogue Note

Dating from the early 1650s, this beautifully preserved canvas formed part of the collection of Catherine the Great of Russia in the second half of the 18th Century and was more latterly housed in the State Hermitage Museum, St. Petersburg.

Teniers delighted in the portrayal of peasant revelry for the scope of characterisation and gesture that it afforded him. Drink is always present in his peasant scenes, and usually the cause of the subject at hand. Here a small inn plays host to a variety of characters: some well-dressed huntsmen pausing for refreshment; and a body of drinkers well-set into their afternoon occupation accompanied by a side of ham. Near them, too near perhaps, one of their number relieves himself against the wall of the inn. Offset from the revellers is the innkeeper, industriously chopping wood for the fire within, his labour in marked contrast to the idleness of his customers behind him. Beyond the inn, the artist has included a bucolic landscape, with a maid milking the herd, another carrying the fresh milk back to the inn in a brass urn, and a small village lying on a rise before a distant city, probably based on Antwerp. It is a scene at once peaceful and clamorous, with its cast both conscientious and indolent, and painting as representative of the artist as one could hope to find.

The painting has the distinction of having been acquired and owned by the Empress Catherine the Great of Russia (fig. 1). According to Somof (see Literature) she acquired it from Louis de Gand de Mérode de Montmorency, Prince d'Isenghien (1678–1762), Marshal of France in 1741, and it remained in the state collection, latterly at the Hermitage, until the era of deaccessions in the inter-war years.  Smith (see literature) must have seen it in The Hermitage, because - ever the opportunist - he valued it at 700 pounds, noting that `the figures in this capital picture are larger than usual.'

The Swedish entrepreneur Axel Wenner-Gren put together a remarkably strong collection of Old Masters of in Paris and later in Sweden, and seems to have bought extensively in the sales of deaccessioned works from The Hermitage.  He owned a Rembrandt of Saskia as Minerva, and the set of detached frescoes by Gian Domenico Tiepolo formerly in the Palazzo Porto in Vicenza latterly sold in these Rooms on 3rd July 2013.