Valkenborch joined the painters’ guild in Mechelen in 1560, and worked alongside such artists as Hans van Wechelen and Pieter Balten in the tradition of Pieter Bruegel the Elder. According to Wied, this panel is the first known example of a kermesse by Valckenborch. The artist returned to these figure groups throughout his career; the ring of dancing villagers, for instance, is seen in his depiction of the month of September (Vienna, Kunsthistorische Museum, no. 5684) in as late as 1585, while the Village Wedding roundel dated 1574 (Copenhagen, Staten Museum for Kunst, no. 659), most similar in theme and format (though of much larger dimensions), contains the same motif of figures seated at a table drinking.
In this picture, the high viewpoint and the panorama it affords are testament to Valckenborch’s adherence to the old conventions of composition, but the seamless transition between fore-, middle- and background through the progression of brown, to green, to blue hues is evidence of his first-hand observation of nature and atmospheric perspective. The way the eye is led down the receding avenue of trees through the accents of red in the clothing of various figures also demonstrates the artist’s compositional understanding. As in many of his paintings, Valckenborch blends an imaginary landscape with the naturalistic depiction of narrative details and everyday life, resulting in a seemingly recognisable scene that gradually dissolves into fantasy.