PHILIPS KONINCK (Amsterdam 1619 – Amsterdam 1688)
A Tavern Interior with Three Peasants Merry Making
oil on panel
14 ¾ x 10 ¾ inches (37.5 x 27.2 cm.)
Philips Koninck was apprenticed to his older brother, Jacob I, in Rotterdam around 1637. In 1641, Philips married Cornelia Furnerius, the daughter of a Rotterdam surgeon and organist and the sister of Abraham Furnius, a pupil of Rembrandt. Shortly after, Koninck returned to Amsterdam where he remained for the rest of his life.
The artist was a respected member of the artistic community in Amsterdam and was held in high esteem by art dealers who often consulted him on the attribution of paintings. His popularity as a painter can be measured by the high prices paid for his work. After 1676, however, he seems to have stopped painting. Although there is no evidence that Koninck ever traveled abroad, his reputation reached far beyond the Dutch borders. This emerges, for example, from the fact that his Self-portrait (1667; Florence, Uffizi) was purchased in 1667 by Cosimo III de’ Medici, Grand Duke of Tuscany, for the collection of artists’ self-portraits in Florence.
The present work depicts an indoor tavern scene with three young peasants. On the left, one man sits with his back to the hearth gleefully cutting something, perhaps tobacco for the pipe that the men are sharing. Across from him, a figure with a broad-brimmed hat gazes out at the viewer, as if to include us in the activity at hand. The man in the background holds his pipe and stares at the ceiling at something unseen, or he is meant to be lost in contemplation from the tranquilizing effects of the smoke.
While our picture is undated, it almost certainly belongs to the early part of Koninck’s career, probably painted in the 1640s, when Koninck was heavily influenced by Adriaen Brouwer (compare Four Merry Peasants in an Inn, 1646; Schwerin, Staatliche Museum).
The figures in these early paintings by Koninck are usually described as peasants; however, Horst Gerson in his monograph on the artist believed they might be bargemen (recognizable by their hats).  Although many sources regard Philips Koninck as a pupil of Rembrandt, there is, in fact, no documentary evidence to support this claim. The artist’s landscapes in particular reveal the influence of Rembrandt.
We are grateful to Fred G. Meijer of the Rijksbureau voor Kunsthistorische Documentatie, The Hague for confirming the attribution of this panel to Philips Koninck.
 See H. Gerson, Philips Konick; ein beitrag zur erforschung der hollandischen malerei des XVII. jahrhunderts, Gebr. Mann, 1936.