According to some authors this painting from 1630, which is currently in the Galeria Nazionale d'Arte Antica in Rome may be the work of the painter Pieter van Laer or from Johannes Lingelbach. Although its author is perhaps the least important, but on the other hand it is a very interesting work if we take it as an example of what at that time began to be described in Rome as a bambochada.
What is that? In Italian, the word bamboccio means something like a puppet, and that was the nickname that was contemptuously given to the Flemish painter Pieter van Laer who had settled in Rome, like so many other Baroque painters of the 17th century. But in this case, the artist physically had certain deformities and hence the insulting nickname of puppet.
Well, that denomination by extension ended up being applied not only to him, but also to other painters from northern Europe, who came from Holland, Belgium or France to Italy, and where they began to paint scenes with a very particular naturalism, mixing the spirit of some works by Caravaggio, such as The Calling of Saint Matthew or the Supper at Emmaus, with the realist tradition of flemish art where there were already antecedents like Brueghel and his scenes of villagers or Quentin Metsys and his famous painting by The Moneychangers.
That is, whatfrom the great Caravaggio they take their games of light, or what is the same, their chiaroscuro technique. As well as they are inspired by him for many of his scenographic elements. And from flamenco art they take their themes from daily life, almost always starring anonymous characters and from the humblest levels of society. That is a bambocha. And of course this painting of the Donut Vendor is.
In the foreground and displaced from the center of the canvas, is precisely the scene that gives the painting its name. An old street vendor with his basket of donuts who is trading his product. And he presents it all to us in exquisite detail, something that is also within the tradition ofFlemish painting, a lover like few others of representing the smallest details. We can perfectly see the wicker of the basket illuminated with power. And we even see the lid that protects the donuts inside.
And if that is the illuminated area of the canvas, in a farther plane and to the right of the image another scene is discovered in shadow. In it there is a group of people with a horse. It is about vagabonds or shepherds playing for a while. The truth is that this shadow extends over almost the entire canvas, except for a part of the sky in the background and the beam of light from the sunset that illuminates the old vendor, who thanks to this lighting becomes the great dominator of the painting.