Daytime interior genre scene of seven peasants drinking, spoking, and playing cards while sitting in a barn. Surrounding them are ceramics and baskets. An eigth figure in the background bends over while pouring alcohol from a large jug.
The scene is a jumbled tavern filled with peasant revelers in various stages of inebriated contentment surrounded by the objects that made up everyday life in 17th-century Rotterdam. This work is a type of genre painting known as a “low-life” scene, which depicts the peasantry going about their daily lives. Within these images are themes of morality and vice (often touched-upon in a comedic manner) such as the overindulgence of alcohol, gambling, and the addictive properties of nicotine. Hendrik Martensz. Sorgh was a prolific painter during a century when growing demand from an emerging middle-class resulted in the production of more than five million works by Dutch artists.
-Aaron Miller, Associate Curator of Visual and Material Culture, Mount Holyoke College Art Museum (Sept. 2016)