Joos van Craesbeeck seems to have come to painting by chance. Trained as a baker, he worked at the Castle of Antwerp from 1633, where he met the genre painter Adriaen Brouwer. The latter, imprisoned there for his unpaid debts, taught the young artisan to paint. Soon thereafter, Craesbeeck was listed with the Guild of Saint Luke in Antwerp as a schilder en bakker, “painter and baker,” making a name for himself as a painter of merry, rowdy gatherings. Unlike his teacher, however, he did not place these in a rustic, bawdy context, but in presumably urban, elegant surroundings. Tavern Scene, which was painted in Brussels, shows four welldressed cavaliers being fleeced and deceived by the women present in the room: Either their money is being taken away from them or they are being cheated at a game of cards with the aid of a mirror. We may assume that the tavern is actually a brothel because of the dog at the front right eating oysters, considered to be an aphrodisiac at the time, from a silver platter. The painting is also a depiction of the five senses: The mirror, singing, smoke, wine, and the thieving hands stand for sight, hearing, smell, taste, and touch.


  • Title: Tavern Scene
  • Creator: Joos van Craesbeeck
  • Date Created: c. 1645/50
  • Physical Dimensions: 49.5 x 64.5 cm
  • Type: painting
  • Rights: Kunsthalle Bremen - Der Kunstverein in Bremen
  • Medium: Oil on wood

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