Merrymaking scenes depict a group of figures enjoying themselves and surrendering to the pleasures of alcohol, lust, gambling, or music, and are a recurring theme in Old Master paintings. Inspired by Renaissance mythological feasts and Brueghel’s peasant scenes, Dutch artists such as Frans Hals further developed this tradition in the 17th Century, when the term ‘merry company’ was coined. This term in art history can refer to both rowdy tavern scenes and elegant companies in lavish interiors or gardens. French artists in the 18th Century, like Antoine Watteau, took the genre to new heights, producing ‘fête galante’. The reason these festive paintings maintained their popularity throughout the centuries is because viewers can relate to them, despite their hidden satirical, moralizing, or allegorical messages.
Click through the following festive paintings in our Old Masters Online sale and become acquainted with the different types of gatherings the Old Masters captured through the centuries.