Quarrel of the Water-carriers
Nicolas Delerive (c. 1755-1818)
Oil on wood panel, c. 1801
This small painting represents a quarrel among the water-carriers, one of many typical scenes on the streets of Lisbon, and is part of a series of at least sixteen small paintings belonging to the Museum which portray various professions and customs of the time. It is one of the most interesting compositions in the series, given the expressiveness of the scene and its clearly critical overtones that transcend typical depictions of water-carriers. It is similar to bambochade painting, a genre created by the Flemish painter Pieter Van Laer, and also resembles a composition made in clay by the sculptor Machado de Castro (at the request of the painter André Gonçalves), copied from a print depicting a madman or drunkard surrounded by a rabble, with each side hurling stones at the other.