Inventory number
P01806
Author
Teniers, David
Title
The Monkey Sculptor
Chronology
Ca. 1660
Technique
Oil
Support
Panel
Dimensions
23 cm x 32 cm
School
Flemish
Theme
Genre and Society
On display
No
Provenance
Royal Collection (acquisition of Isabel Farnesio, 1759-1766; Buenavista Palace, 1766, n. 91 [dupl.]; New Royal Palace, Madrid, “gabinete colgado de verde”, 1772, n. 91; New Royal Palace, Madrid, “retrete”, 1794, s. n.; Royal Palace, Madrid, “retrete a la inglesa”, 1814-1818, s. n.)

A monkey dressed as a sculptor works in his studio, making a statue of a satyr while another helps him and a third, dressed in elegant clothes, watches his work attentively. Other works by the artist are visible in the background, including the tomb of another simian.

This work is paired with The Monkey Painter (P01805) and both offer Tenier's critical vision of merely imitative artistic activity. As an irrational animal, monkeys were considered incapable of doing anything other than copying and thus symbolized mediocre artists. The notable personage alludes to the false connoisseur of art. The tomb in which a monkey lies, in a meditative posture, alludes to human stupidity and the pedantic illustration of the transcendence of death in certain artworks.

This work was acquired by Queen Isabel Farnesio between 1759 and 1766.

 
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