Wolfgang Heimbach

c. 1613 - c. 1678

A Tavern Scene illuminated by Candle Light


Oil on Panel




45(h) x 56.5(w) cms


Signed with Monogram and Dated 'WH F. 1635'



This highly dramatic scene lit seemingly by four different sources of light (candlelight, firelight and outside the lantern and starlight) is typical of Heimbach when he moves towards a Caravaggistic mood. The theatrical shadow thrown by the hat of the Soldier seated across the table is particularly effective in embuing the scene with heightened drama. The dramatic sense is increased by the reaction of the other characters and the relatively impassive silhouetted woman who has clearly just imparted something of some importance. Further tension is added by the apparent appearance through the open door of an armed group of men. It is their barely noticeable presence, and only now dimly possible to make out due to their bright lantern and the myriad of stars above that make us, the onlooker, further intrigued.

Dated 1635 this painting in all probability was painted during his time in Utrecht where he would have seen the Caravaggist work of Honthorst. The second most important influence on him was the work of Pieter Codde and Willem Duyster in Amsterdam and we can see this in the mask like features and crisply painted clothing of the figures.


Private collection, Saone-et-Loire, France since the second half of the 19th century