Village Scene with a Puppeteer, A
Religious and political turmoil during the Renaissance eventually led to the split of what were formerly known as the Low Countries into two nations that had different social and artistic tastes, in addition to different religions. Holland, or the Netherlands, became a Protestant (and mostly Calvinist) republic and its artists conveyed moral and religious messages via symbolism and careful tones of light and shadow, as typified in the works of Rembrandt. Flanders, on the other hand, remained Catholic and royalist and Flemish artists like Rubens and Van Dyck glorified the Church and the monarchy with grand themes, lively compositions, bustling domestic and genre scenes, all expressed in vivid colors. Nowhere are these scenes more striking than in the work of Jan Josef Horemans II. In works like A Village Scene With a Puppeteer, he combines detailed observation with a bit of caricature to produce an amusing scene of villagers being amused. Note the dogs barking at the spectators, the boy dragging his little sister to the show, and the cynical smile of the showman who looks back over his shoulder at us.