The present lot, in excellent state of conservation, demonstrates Tilborgh's important contribution to genre painting in the Southern Netherlands.This contribution still needs ackowledgment, as his reputation has been overshadowed by his contemporary David Teniers II. Striking are the warm earthly colours applied in firm brushstrokes with impasto and the expression and gazes of the figures.
The same qualities are to be seen in the signed Peasants by an
inn,also from 1657, offered at Robinson & Fisher,London (F.-C. Legrand,Les Peintres Flamands de Genre XVIIe Siècle,1963,p.160, fig.58),which also uses a similar composition scheme with two groups of peasants at left and right.
As observed by K.Zoege von Manteuffel,'Gillis van Tilborgh',Jahrbuch der Preussischen Kunstsammlungen,1916,p.336, who was the first to write an article on the artist, followed by F.-C.Legrand,op.cit, 1963,p.160, van Tilborgh's low life scenes and especially his facial types were influenced by those of Joos van Craesbeek. However, while van Craesbeek peasant types remain of a certain rudeness, van Tilborgh's figures display a larger degree of refinement, to which is added a subtle humour in their sensitive and alert gazes.Here he comes close to Gonzales Coques.
In the present composition, the woman on the right looks towards the man opposite her, while she holds up a jug. He, on his turn, does not return her gaze, but looks into the jug, by which he recalls kannekijkers as depicted in 16th century paintings by Pieter Aertsen and Joachim Beuckelaer.