• NameDavid Teniers d.ä.
  • Sexmale
  • Nationality/DatesFlemish, born 1582, dead 1649
BiographyHistory- and landscape painter and draughtsman.
After an apprenticeship with his older brother,
Juliaan Teniers, begun in 1595, David Teniers I travelled
to Rome, where he was active between c. 1600
and 1605. In his 1661 biography of the artist in Het
Gulden Cabinet van de Edele Vry Schilder-Const (Lierre
1661), Cornelis de Bie mentioned an otherwise
undocumented apprenticeship with Rubens, and a
subsequent journey to Rome, where he “lived with
Adam of Frankfurt, called Elsheimer, for ten years”.
And 18th-century writers also stressed the close affinity
of Teniers’ works with those of the German painter
Adam Elsheimer, with whom Teniers has sometimes
been confused. Jean-Baptiste Le Brun, in his Galerie
des Peintres flamands, hollandais et allemands (Paris and
Amsterdam 1792) even mentioned copies by the artist
after Elsheimer’s originals. De Bie was, however,
unreliably informed about the duration of Teniers’
possible stay with Elsheimer, which could not have
lasted more than five years. By 1605 Teniers had
returned to Antwerp, where in that year he was registered
as a master in the Guild of St.Luke. Although
De Bie’s claim that Teniers lived with Elsheimer is
unsupported by any other source, it can, nevertheless,
be interpreted as an indication of personal contact
between the two painters.
Works by David Teniers I are comparatively rare. A
significant number of his monumental history paintings,
primarily altarpieces painted between c. 1615
and 1620, were destined for churches in eastern Flanders.
These works show clear connections with
Rubens’ classicizing tendencies from the same period,
but also betray the influence, in the chiaroscuro treatment
of light, of Caravaggio, acquired while in Italy.
Far more numerous are his small-scale cabinet pictures
with biblical, mythological and allegorical subjects
in the tradition of Frans Francken II and Hendrick
van Balen I. In these paintings, especially those
dating between c. 1606 and 1620. Elsheimer’s influence
is strikingly clear. It is evident in the classicizing
composition of the landscapes, structured with large
stands of trees or massive crags, in the exotic and
colourful figures in oriental dress, in the characteristic
treatment of light, and even in the almost literal
adoption of specific motifs. With these works Teniers
represents in Flanders a trend that also occurs in
Dutch painting at about the same time.