ALEXANDER VAN BREDAEL (Antwerp 1663 – Antwerp ? 1720)
A Game of Bowls by a Tavern
signed A.V. Bredael in the lower left
oil on canvas
25 ½ x 32 ¼ inches (65 x 82 cm.)
Private Collection, New York
Joy and tranquility define the prevailing mood of this delightful work. The action centers on a game of bowls, which has thoroughly engaged participants and onlookers alike. The object of the game is to throw one’s bowl closest to the marker set in the ground. Two villagers have already taken their turn and stand before the next player, who is crouched down and intensely focused on the goal. Behind the hurler are other players comparing their bowls and strategizing. In the center a dashing young man accompanied by a frolicking small dog anticipate the flow of action. A bagpiper, prosperous huntsman with greyhounds, as well as other villagers enjoy the match, while girls from the inn supply refreshments. A horse whose head protrudes from the barn’s roof, chickens and doves, as well as a herd of sheep complete the bucolic atmosphere. Under bright sunshine accompanied by strong cloud formations, the overall yellow, brown, and green tonalities of the landscape are imbued with a richness complemented by the colorful accents of red, blue and gold found in the celebrants’ clothing. The vibrant brushwork of the composition further enhances the liveliness of the scene reflective of the timeless appeal of simple pleasures.
Alexander van Bredael was the son of the landscape and figure painter Peeter van Bredael (1629 – 1719), as well as the father of Jean François van Bredael (born circa 1683) who was also a painter. He was a master in the Antwerp Guild of St. Luke by 1685, specializing in paintings of processions and festive occasions. In 1694 Peter Snyers (1681 – 1752) became his pupil and from 1713/1714 Jean Baptist Govaerts (c. 1701 -1746). Paintings by Alexander van Bredael hang in the museums of Antwerp, Lille, Nancy, and Toulouse.