Inns, taverns and brothels
Inns, taverns and brothels are popular venues in 16th and 17th-century paintings. They serve as the setting for genre scenes – images of people engaged in everyday activities. Representations of debauchery in particular are often staged in inns or brothels. Painters frequently introduced stereotypical figures, such as peasants, drunks and prostitutes, the latter usually rendered in a concealed manner. With their many excesses, these folk figures were presented as bad examples. The contemporary viewer, usually a member of the upper middle class, could gloat at the bawdy escapades while feeling superior to them. In some cases, the meaning of the paintings is difficult to decipher, for the moral of the story can be alluded to with objects or actions that are open to interpretation. Edifying or not, the scenes were meant in first place to entertain and amuse.