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MATHEUS VAN HELMONT (1623 - 1679) Flemish farmhouse interior with children’s breakfast
Signed (lower left) Oil on canvas laid on board 43 x 61 cm XVII century Antwerp was an important and prosperous commercial centre, which helped the emancipation of its artists and the rise of Masters, such as Rubens, Van Dyck or Jordaens, specialised in portraits, landscapes, still lives or genre scenes. In the XVI century, genre painting gradually expanded in Europe and particularly in Flanders. This painting, depicting the interior of a tavern, evokes reality and simplicity by representing a familiar, intimate and popular environment. In the foreground of the scene a man and children are eating a simple meal of soup and bread while men in the background are merrily talking and smoking their pipes in front of the fireplace whilst sitting on barrels. The genre Mattheus von Helmont was influenced by David Teniers the Younger, who mainly depicted interior scenes with peasants, alchemists, craftsmen or taverns, village fairs and other scenes. In 1645, he was admitted to the Guild of St Luke; however, getting into repeated fights, he left Antwerp leaving his paintings to creditors. He then entered the Brussels guild of painters in 1674.