Original copperplate engraving titled Le Chirurgien de Campagne – The Country Surgeon engraved after a painting by David Teniers II and dedicated to Monseigneur le Marquis d’Argenson, the French Secretary of State from 1744-1747.
The surgeon is removing a plaster treatment from his patient’s foot. The young apprentice is heating a fresh plaster treatment over hot coals. A shaving bowl can be seen in the bottom left hand corner, suggesting that the surgeon may also have been a barber – although shaving bowls were commonly used for bloodletting. The stuffed iguana hanging from the roof of the room was a common feature of apothecary shops, suggesting the surgeon might also have been an apothecary though it was unusual for one person to practice several professions.
David Teniers the Younger (1610-1690) was one of the most important seventeenth century Flemish painters of genre and landscape. Born in Antwerp, he first studied with his father David Teniers the Elder, and became a member of the Guild of St Luke in 1633. He married Anna Brueghel, daughter of the celebrated flower and landscape painter Jan Brueghel the Elder, in 1637. Anna’s guardian Peter Paul Rubens was a signatory to their marriage contract.
Between 1645 and 1646, Teniers was Dean of the Antwerp Guild of St Luke. In 1651, while he was at the height of his powers, Archduke Leopold Wilhelm, governor of the Spanish Netherlands, brought Teniers to Brussels as Court Painter and Curator, giving Teniers an authoritative role in building up the royal collection. From 1656-59 he was Court Painter to the new Spanish governor, Don Juan of Austria, brother of Philip IV, and retained close ties with the court for the rest of his life. In 1663 Philip IV gave Teniers permission to found the highly influential Academy of Fine Arts in Antwerp. His last known dated work was painted in 1683; Teniers died in Brussels in 1690.
Teniers’s early works were influenced by Adriaen Brouwer (1605/6-1638), particularly his treatment of peasant, low-life subjects and interior scenes, although he also painted landscapes, genre, portraiture, religious and allegorical subjects. Later, Teniers turned increasingly to landscapes with figures; unlike his predecessors, however, he sought to convey the serenity of rural life rather than the more basic aspects of rustic realism. The works of Teniers were extremely influential on Flemish painting during his lifetime and beyond, and his paintings were avidly collected by princely connoisseurs.
The work of David Teniers the Younger is represented in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; the Hermitage, St Petersburg; the Louvre, Paris; the Prado, Madrid; the National Gallery, London and the Wallace Collection, London
Thomas Major (1720-1799) was an etcher and line engraver of portraits, landscapes and topographical views after his contemporaries and Old Master Painters. He went to Paris in 1745 and was imprisoned by the French in retaliation for the imprisonment of French soldiers taken at the battle of Culloden. While there, he studied under J.P Le Bas and engraved several plates after Wovermans, Berchem, Claude and Teniers. Later, after he had returned to England he became Seal Engraver to the King, retaining his post for forty years. He died in London in 1799.