A Sow and her Litter

David Teniers the YoungerBefore 1690

Dulwich Picture Gallery

Dulwich Picture Gallery

"Teniers has observed the behaviour of the sow and her five piglets closely; some appear to be squabbling, while another suckles from its mother. It is unusual for Teniers to focus so much on animals, for he favoured subjects that captured human traits. However, peaceful depictions of farm animals and humans coexisting were valued by his contemporaries as a mirror of 17th-century rural life in the Netherlands.

This painting was one of 50 works in the collection chosen to be reproduced in a series of coloured aquatints published between 1716 and 1720 by Ralph Cockburn, artist and first keeper of the Gallery. It was also one of the few that were reproduced on a much larger scale than the others, showing the appreciation that contemporaries had for this painting. Teniers greatly appealed to English collectors during the 18th century, when his work was praised by famous artists like Sir Joshua Reynolds. Furthermore, the painting was still prized in 1905 when it was described in the Gallery’s catalogue as ‘the most brilliant and glowing in colour’ of all of Teniers’ paintings in the collection. "

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  • Title: A Sow and her Litter
  • Date: Before 1690
  • Physical Dimensions: w343 x h244 cm
  • Type: Painting
  • Medium: Oil
  • Work Notes: If not 1804 insurance list no. 39 then possibly:Lot 0081 from Sale Catalog Br-717Artist Name TENIERS, DAVID (THE YOUNGER) (Flemish)Lot Title A Sow and PigsTransaction Unknown, £2.10 Auction House Phillips (Harry)Sale Location London, EnglandSale Date 30 January 1810 - 1 February 1810 (This Lot: 30 January)Lugt Number 7696  Lot 0152 from Sale Catalog Br-747Artist Name TENIERS, DAVID (THE YOUNGER) (Flemish)Lot Title Sow and Pigs
  • Work Nationality: Flemish
  • Support: Panel
  • Provenance: C. A. de Calonne, c. 1795, but not in his sale, London, Skinner and Dyke, 23ff. Mar. 1795; Franois-Louis-Joseph de Laborde-MŽrŽville; his sale, London, Christie's, 7 Mar. 1801, lot 48. Bt Bourgeois for £22.1; London, Noel Desenfans and/or Sir Francis Bourgeois: 1804 Insurance List, no. 39 ('A Landscape with Pigs'); London, Sir Francis Bourgeois, 1807-1811; Bourgeois Bequest, 1811.
  • Inscriptions: Signed, bottom right: 'D. TENIERS. FEC.'
  • Further Information: "This is an unusual work in Teniers’s œuvre, as he seldom produced such close-up views of animals. Its elevation to ‘The Prodigal Son as Swineherd’ by Richter and Sparks in 1880 seems unfounded, as the Prodigal Son is usually depicted on his knees praying, or standing, regretting his sinful ways. A Sow and Her Litter (DPG 146) appears to have a distinguished provenance. It is first recorded in the collection of the French statesman Charles-Alexandre Calonne in 1788. It next appears in 1801 in the sale of the collection of François-Louis-Joseph de Laborde-Méréville, formerly Conseiller du Roi and Garde du Trésor Royal, whose aunt, Madame d’Harvelay, had married Calonne in 1788. Might Calonne have given her the picture? In 1791 Laborde-Méréville purchased many of the works in the collection of Louis-Philippe, Duc d’Orléans, to prevent their export from France, but had to sell them in England when he was forced into exile in 1792. "
  • Artist: Teniers, David the younger
  • Acquisition Method: Bourgeois, Sir Peter Francis (Bequest, 1811)