- Reference number
- Teniers, David (Flemish)
- The Baby King
- Lámina de cobre
- 58 cm x 70 cm
- Género y sociedad
- On display
- Colección Real (Palacio Real Nuevo, Madrid, retrete [1º], 1794, s.n.; Palacio Real, Madrid, retrete a la inglesa, 1814-1818, s.n.).
This work depicts the feast of Epiphany, as can be seen by the crown on the central figure, whose paintings show an Adoration of the Magi. According to Flemish folk tradition, in this feast, the king of the celebration is chosen by chance, being the one who finds a bean in his cake.
Other Flemish artists, such as Jordaens, depicted this celebration in the same way, reflecting its most festive moment: the instant when, once the king has been chosen, all of the other guests shout in unison, “the baby king” —which gives this work its name.
This work is in keeping with his tendency to show everyday life in his native Flanders, but Teniers improves, here, with respect to his earlier indoor scenes. He sets aside the dark overall tonalities that he drew from Brouwer's work, in favor of more colorful and luminous scenes. Still, he retains the jocose and critical depiction of popular types, the still-life objects in the foreground, and elements of traditional painting, such as the people leaning in the window.
This work was listed at Madrid's Royal Palace in 1794.