David Teniers the Younger's paintings became popular through his playful and boisterous peasant interior scenes, as well as his more grandly illustrated representations of collectors’ painting cabinets, notably that of Archduke Leopold Wilhelm, under whose patronage he worked beginning in 1647. It was at the beginning of the 1640’s, however, that Teniers began to develop his own pictorial language in the more established genre of landscape painting. It was at around this moment that he focused his attention on the Flemish countryside as a subject itself worthy of his attention, and not merely as a backdrop to his outdoor genre scenes. As he so deftly demonstrates in this panel, Teniers focused his attention on the variegated light of the Flemish countryside as effected by impending weather. Here he includes wispy, dark clouds, with streaking rays of light piercing in from various directions through rain, and a rainbow in the left background. Along with Rubens, Teniers was among the first Flemish seventeenth-century artists to include rainbows in his compositions, not for their allegorical or religious meaning, but rather as another means by which to demonstrate his careful study of nature. Other examples of this include another work from the mid 1640s, The Reaping
(The State Hermitage Museum, St. Petersburg, inv. no. ET- 2778).1
Though no specific sketch has been discovered related to this picture, a number of rapidly executed pencil studies of trees from this period (fig. 1) provide great insight into the spontaneous representations of foliage and light.
The reverse of the panel bears the initials F/DB (fig. 2), which is the maker-mark of the Antwerp panel producer François de Bout, who became a master in the Antwerp guild of Saint Luke in 1637-8, and who provided Teniers with numerous panel supports during his career.
1. Copies after the present composition are in private collections in Berlin and Aschaffenburg (RKD entry 44932).