Collection Online
The skittle players
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.


The Skittle Players by David Teniers the younger, c 1640’s, acquired in 1949, was housed in a gilded frame of unknown origin.
The frame is in the style of Italian or possibly Spanish frames from the sixteenth century with a heavily gadrooned leading edge. (above)
A proposal to reframe the Teniers in a more sympathetic manner which altered the way we read the space in the painting was made in 2013.
The proposed frame was based on a ‘truncated box frame’ from 1626 – oak, painted black and partly gilded. (top)
Dutch genre scene paintings from the seventeenth century tended to be framed in relatively plain frames, more often flat bottomed box frames or truncated box frames which are related to Flemish frames of the fifteenth century and Italian cassetta forms.
The frame was constructed from planks of oak, painted and gilded and the surfaces distressed.
The painting was fitted in the frame in 2014.
The painting was cleaned and restored in 2013.

Reproduction - crafted by the NGV

oak, gold leaf, distemper paint.