The theme of the rural idyll was one that Teniers took to heart in the 1660s after the acquisition, in 1662, of his own rural retreat - the house of Drij Toren at Perk. There, the artist began to produce landscapes designed to extol the virtues of a tranquil and simple rustic existence. Margret Klinge observes that 'these were the years in which his genre painting was dominated by an arcadian view of the countryside. The rural life he presents is happy and carefree - an arcadian idyll' (M. Klinge, in the catalogue of the exhibition, David Teniers the Younger, Antwerp, Koninklijk Museum, 11 May-1 September 1991, p. 22).
In the present picture, the artist employs a variety of set arcadian motifs - the shepherds and their flocks in the distance, the bridge in the middle distance (a favourite Claudian device), and the classical ruins on a hill beyond. Some of these elements recur in other closely related works from the period, including the pair of small panels in the Wachtmeister collection, Sweden, and a horizontal picture of 1668 in a private collection (ibid., p. 244, nos. 84A and 84B, and p. 23, fig. 15).
We are grateful to Dr. Margret Klinge for confirming the attibution on the basis on a transparency.