Teniers was a prolific painter in several genres, including peasant subjects in the manner of Brouwer which were widely known through engravings. This painting has been dated to the 1640s. It was known in 18th-century France as 'Le Manchot' - 'The One Armed Man' - on account of the seated figure whose left hand is concealed below his apron. He holds up a coin to buy a glass of gin from the woman seated opposite. The distillery - probably an illegal still - appears in the background in another room. The owl may have been included as an allusion to human folly.
image © Ashmolean Museum, University of Oxford