This picture gained its French appellation, Le Cuisinier Flamand, from the title given to an engraving made after it by Renée-Elisabeth Lepicié in 1748 (Nagler, 1839, VII, p. 448, no. 4; see fig.1). The kitchen interior was a theme that Teniers first took up in the 1640s and frequently returned to throughout his career. The earliest known dated example is a picture of 1643 (The Prado, Madrid; inv. no. 1798), in which a seated man is opening mussels in a well-stocked kitchen with a hearth behind. The following year Teniers made a more ambitious treatment of the subject, portraying his wife peeling apples, with their son David at her side, at a laden table in a large kitchen (Mauritshuis, The Hague; inv. no. 260), and in 1646 he painted the Palace Kitchen (Hermitage, St. Petersburg). The exact meaning of these subjects has been debated. Van Thiel opined that the inclusion of a swan and a pie in the Mauritshuis picture suggests that it might have been painted for a wedding feast, while Margret Klinge later suggested that it may have been executed in honour of his wife, or as a more general paradigm of domestic virtue (see J. van Thiel, Openbaar Kunstbezit, XIV, 1970, no. 40; and M. Klinge, in the catalogue of the exhibition, David Teniers the Younger, Antwerp, 1991, p. 120, no. 36). More plausible perhaps is Klinge's interpretation of these pictures as displays of earthly abundance (ibid.). As exemplified by the present work, Teniers includes creatures from the four elements: fish from the sea, birds from the air, game and domestic animals from the earth, while fire is symbolised by the hearth beyond, to affect a representation of the Four Elements within a domestic genre scene.