Commedia dell’Arte Show

painting by Karel DujardinCommedia dell’Arte Show is one of the most well-known examples of paintings by Karel Dujardin (1622-1678) of what he called Quacks. Quacks were those itinerant entertainers and sellers of potions and elixirs proclaimed to cure everything but usually only succeeded in emptying the pockets of the gullible. The Flemish artist is remembers for satirical paintings and etchings like this one as well as Italianate landscapes.

Completed in 1657, this painting depicts what appears to be a fairly remote village. The villagers are gathered to watch the show put on by a quack. He has an entertainer in black face along with pictorial evidence of the efficacy of his elixirs – notice the case of his product sitting nearby. Wonderful details are included that make the painting far more interesting like the dog hiding under the stage and the man with the extremely large nose peeking out from behind the curtain.