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Merry Company

Artist: Buytewech, Willem Pietersz.
(Rotterdam 1591/1592 - 1624 Rotterdam)

Date: ca. 1620-1622
Medium: oil on canvas
Dimensions: 72.6 x 65.4 cm
Classification: paintings
Acquisition Credit: purchased, Amsterdam, 1908
Inventory Number: 3831
Department: Old Master Paintings

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+Description

Merry Company

Buytewech's barely a dozen of extant paintings illustrate the transition from moralising allegorical depictions to independent genre pictures. This picture, painted around 1620, still shows Mannerist features in the brilliant colours of the costumes then fashionable and the slightly mannered movements, but already creates the impression of a realistic depiction of an elegant scene. However, the symbolic meanings of the objects were not unknown to art lovers of Buytewech's time, and they may have recognised the woman of mature beauty entertaining the merry young men as the World-Woman. In medieval iconography she personifies the allure of sinful earthly pleasures and has a globe on her head, which is probably replaced here by the map. The objects on the table, the floor and the wall, along with the monkey, can also be interpreted as symbols of the five senses.