Jan the Elder developed in the decade of the 1610s his scenes of river under the occurence of a kermesse or a market in the village. He enjoys this theme to the point of showing himself twice in self-portrait within the scene. One of these paintings, made in 1614 and kept in the Museum of Vienna, is located in Schelle on the banks of the Scheldt. This village undoubtedly also inspired many non-localized scenes.
The other image showing the artist is a 26 x 38 cm oil on copper dated 1616 and signed. The peasants dance on the road that leads to the village. Some small boats are approaching the bank. It was sold for £ 3.5M including premium by Sotheby's on July 9, 2008.
On February 1 in New York, Sotheby's sells a 26 x 37 cm oil on copper dated 1614, lot 40 estimated $ 2.5M, in a condition announced as remarkable in the catalog. The artworks dated and signed like this one are a proof of the importance that the artist attributed to them. It is painted in the heavy impasto which allows to separate without ambiguity the autograph works from the copies.
The village is in the distance. The main theme is the many boats in the foreground ready to unload their passengers. Recently rediscovered, it had been sold in 1885 in the Hôtel Drouot under the judiciously chosen title L'Arrivée à la Kermesse.
The details are abundant, altogether realistic and sympathetic. Let us take as an example the mother who holds her toddler to a friend to secure the baby before any other passenger leaves the boat. The composition of the landscape is majestic with the broad river that goes straight to the horizon.