Collection Online

The skittle players
(mid 1640s)

oil on canvas
98.4 × 206.0 cm
Accession Number
International Painting
Credit Line
National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne
Felton Bequest, 1949
This digital record has been made available on NGV Collection Online through the generous support of Digitisation Champion Ms Carol Grigor through Metal Manufactures Limited
Gallery location
17th Century & Flemish Paintings Gallery
Level 2, NGV International

David Teniers produced many scenes that illustrated the popular Dutch sentiment that ‘Life is not all beer and skittles’. This is one of the largest paintings made by Teniers on the theme. Its composition reinforces the notion that individuals must choose between the paths of vice and virtue. To the left, men play skittles and drink, while a companion relieves himself at the fence. On the right hand side, across the river, a woman labours at her washtub, a figure of industry and good housekeeping. A river marks the midpoint of the composition and guides the eye to a church steeple, nestled before some distant hills.