Adriaen Brouwer

Adriaen Brouwer[1] (Oudenaarde, c. 1605 – Antwerp, January 1638) was a Flemish painter active in Flanders and the Dutch Republic in the first half of the 17th century.[2][3] Brouwer was an important innovator of genre painting through his vivid depictions of peasants, soldiers and other 'lower class' individuals engaged in drinking, smoking, card or dice playing, fighting, music making etc. in taverns or rural settings.[4] Brouwer contributed to the development of the genre of tronies, i.e. head or facial studies, which investigate varieties of expression.[5] In his final year he produced a few landscapes of a tragic intensity. Brouwer's work had an important influence on the next generation of Flemish and Dutch genre painters.[2][4]

Adriaen Brouwer
Portrait of Adriaen Brouwer by Anthony van Dyck
Adriaen Brouwer by Anthony van Dyck
Born1605/1606, Oudenaarde
Died1638, Antwerp
Known forPainting


There are still a number of unresolved questions surrounding the early life and career of Adriaen Brouwer. The early Dutch biographer Arnold Houbraken included multiple erroneous statements and fanciful stories about Brouwer in his The Great Theatre of Dutch Painters of 1718-19. The most glaring mistakes of Houbraken were to place Brouwer's place of birth in Haarlem in the Dutch Republic and to identify Frans Hals as his master.[6]

Adriaen Brouwer - The Bitter Potion - Google Art Project
The bitter draught (1636-1638)

It is now generally accepted that Brouwer was born in Oudenaarde in Flanders in the year 1605 or 1606. His father who was also called Adriaen worked as a tapestry designer in Oudenaarde, at the time an important center for tapestry production in Flanders. The father died in poverty when Adriaen the younger was only 15–16 years old. Brouwer had by that time already left the paternal home.[7]

Brouwer worked in Antwerp in 1622. By March 1625 Adriaen Brouwer was recorded in Amsterdam where he resided in the inn of the painter Barend van Someren, another Flemish artist who had taken up residence in the Dutch Republic.[4] Brouwer is further recorded on 23 July 1626 as a notary's witness when he signed a statement of Barend van Someren and Adriaen van Nieulandt about a sale of pictures in Amsterdam. It is possible that by that time he already lived in Haarlem.[3] He was active in the Chamber of Rhetoric 'De Wijngaertranken' in Haarlem. The motto of this amateur literary circle was: In Love Above All Else.

In 1631 Brouwer returned to his native Flanders where he was registered as a master in the Antwerp Guild of St Luke even before he had become a poorter of Antwerp. The artist continued to live and work in Antwerp until his untimely death. The artist's name regularly shows up in Antwerp records usually in connection with arrangements for his various debts.[6]

In 1633 Brouwer was jailed in the citadel of Antwerp. The reason for the imprisonment is not clear. Possibly it was for tax evasion, or, alternatively, for political reasons because the local authorities may have considered him to be a spy for the Dutch Republic.[6] The operation of the bakery in the Antwerp citadel was in the hands of the baker Joos van Craesbeeck. It is assumed that Brouwer and van Craesbeeck got to know each other during this time. Based on information provided by contemporary Flemish biographer Cornelis de Bie in his book Het Gulden Cabinet van Craesbeeck is believed to have become Brouwer's pupil and best friend. Their relationship was described by de Bie as ‘Soo d'oude songhen, soo pypen de jonghen’ (As the old ones sang, so the young ones chirp’).[8] The stylistic similarities of van Craesbeeck's early work with that of Brouwer seem to corroborate such pupilage.[9]

On 26 April 1634 Adriaen Brouwer took up lodgings in the house of the prominent engraver Paulus Pontius as the two men had become close friends. The same year the pair joined the local chamber of rhetoric Violieren.[6] It has been suggested that Brouwer's painting called Fat man or Luxuria (Mauritshuis), which possibly represents the deadly sin of lust, is at the same time a portrait of Paulus Pontius.[10]

Adriaen Brouwer - Peasants Brawling over Cards
Peasants brawling over cards

Early biographers describe how Adriaen Brouwer and his artist friends spent a lot of their time partying in the local taverns, often joined there by fellow artists. Brouwer painted a tavern scene called The smokers, which included a self-portrait together with portraits of Jan Cossiers, Jan Lievens, Joos van Craesbeeck and Jan Davidsz. de Heem (c. 1636, Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York). The company of friends is shown sitting around a table and smoking. Brouwer is the figure in the middle who is turned around to face the viewer. This type of group portrait doubled as a representation of one of the five senses (in this case the sense of taste).[5]

Despite his reported dissolute lifestyle and his preference for low-life subjects, Brouwer was highly respected by his colleagues as evidenced by the fact that Rubens owned 17 works by Brouwer at the time of his death, of which at least one had been acquired before Rubens got to know Brouwer personally.[6] Rembrandt also had paintings by Brouwer in his collection.[3]

Adriaen Brouwer - Smell

In 1635 Brouwer took on Jan-Baptist Dandoy (active 1631-1638) as his only officially registered pupil. In January 1638 Adriaen Brouwer died in Antwerp. Some early biographers associated his early death with his party lifestyle and abuse of alcohol. Houbraken, however, attributes his death to the plague. Evidence for the latter is that originally his remains were buried in a common grave. A month after his death on 1 February 1638, his body was re-interred in the Carmelite Church of Antwerp after a solemn ceremony and at the initiative and expense and in the presence of his artist friends.[6]



Brouwer left a small body of work amounting to about 60 works. Just a few of his works are signed, while none is dated.[4] As Brouwer was widely copied, imitated and followed in his time, attributions of work to Brouwer are sometimes uncertain or contested. For instance, The smoker (Louvre) showing a man exhaling smoke while holding a bottle of liquor was attributed for a long time to Brouwer, but is now given to Brouwer's follower and, possibly, pupil Joos van Craesbeeck.[11]

The principal subject matter of Brouwer are genre scenes with peasants, soldiers and other 'lower class' individuals engaging in drinking, smoking, card or dice playing, fights etc. often set in taverns or rural settings.[4] Brouwer also contributed to the development of the genre of tronies, i.e. head or facial studies, which investigate varieties of expression.[5] He produced a few landscapes in the final years of his career.[4] Brouwer's compositions are nearly all executed in small format.[4]

Brouwer, Adriaen - Interior of a Tavern - Google Art Project
Interior of a tavern

Brouwer was influenced by Dirck Hals, a genre painter who was active in Haarlem. Brouwer's stylistic development cannot be traced with certainty. Pictures in bright natural colours are believed to have been painted in the 1620s.[3] Around 1630, Brouwer's palette started showing a strong preference for browns, greys and greens. The painter had a free, sketchy manner of painting and applied paint thinly.[4]

Genre scenes

In his genre scenes Brouwer depicted peasants, soldiers and other 'lower class' individuals engaging in various forms of vices such as drinking, smoking, card or dice playing, brawls etc. often set in taverns or rural settings.[4] The sole purpose of his compositions often appears to be the representation of the essence of the vice.

It is still contested whether he intended to convey any moral message. He gradually appears to have concentrated more on the expressions of his subjects going through the emotions of pain, anger, disgust and joy. This is particularly clear in his many paintings of tavern brawls, such as the Brawl between peasants and Brawling card players (both in the Alte Pinakothek, Munich). These compositions depict how rage in its varying stages and degrees is reflected in the facial expressions of the persons having an argument. Brouwer does not appear to denounce these outbreaks of anger as a Christian sin but as an expression of a lack of self-control. This view was likely based on the ethical ideas of Seneca which were rediscovered and developed into Neostoicism by the Flemish philologist and humanist Justus Lipsius. These new ideas were generally accepted in Antwerp's humanist circle of which Brouwer formed part.[3]

Portraits and tronies

Adriaen Brouwer is regarded as an important innovator of portrait painting, a prominent genre in Netherlandish art.

Adriaen Brower - Youth Making a Face
Youth making a face

His most famous group portrait is set in a tavern and is referred to as The smokers (ca. 1636, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, in New York City).[12] Despite the modern title, the scene is a group portrait of fellow artists of Adriaen Brouwer who resided in Antwerp. Not all of them have been identified with certainty. Brouwer is the second figure on the left who is turned towards the viewer. He has his eyes wide open, holds a beer jug in his right hand and puffs out smoke from his pipe. The figure on the far right has been identified as Jan Davidsz. de Heem. The other artists have not been identified with certainty but it has been suggested that Jan Lievens is the person on the far left, Joos van Craesbeeck the person in the middle and Jan Cossiers the second person on the right. This group portrait is regarded as belonging to the type of the 'friendship portrait'. Similar friendship portraits that include a self-portrait had been created before by Rubens in his Self-portrait in a circle of friends from Mantua and by Simon de Vos in the group portrait of himself with Johan Geerlof and Jan Cossiers referred to as Gathering of Smokers and Drinkers. While the latter two friendship portraits were fairly conventional, Brouwer innovated the type in The smokers. He achieved this by expanding the portraits to full-length portraits, setting the scene in a tavern, the expressiveness of the faces and the nonchalant demeanor and clothing of the sitters. The dynamism of the composition brings the group portrait closer to Brouwer's tavern scenes than to contemporary portrait paintings.[10] The portrait The smokers falls also into the genre of the 'dissolute' artist portraits that took root in Dutch and Flemish genre painting in the 17th century. The genre was an inversion of the Renaissance ideal of the ‘pictor doctus’: the artist as an intellectual and gentleman. This ideal was replaced by the new model of the prodigal artist who is characterized by his creative inspiration and talents. These (self-)portraits emphasized the artists' dissolute nature by creating associations with traditional moral themes such as the Five senses, the Seven deadly sins and the Prodigal Son in the tavern. In The smokers Bouwers depicted the sense of taste.[5]

1636 Brouwer Die Operation am Ruecken anagoria
The back operation

Brouwer played an important role in the development of the genre of the 'tronie'. The term tronie typically refers to figure studies not intended to depict an identifiable person, but rather to investigate varieties of expression. As such tronies are a form of genre painting in a portrait format. Adriaen Brouwer contributed to the genre as he had a talent for expressiveness. His work gave a face to lower-class figures by infusing their images with recognizable and vividly expressed human emotions—anger, joy, pain, and pleasure. His Youth Making a Face (c. 1632/1635, National Gallery of Art) shows a young man with a satirical and mocking gesture which humanises him, however uninviting he may appear. Brouwer's vigorous application of paint in this composition, with his characteristically short, unmodulated brushstrokes, increases the dramatic effect.[13]

Genre painters often returned to the old theme of the allegory of the five senses and created series of tronies depicting the five senses or the seven deadly sins.[10] Brouwer also painted a number of genre portraits that represent the five senses or the seven deadly sins.[5] An example is the painting called Fat man or Luxuria (Mauritshuis), which is believed to be a portrait of Paulus Pontius as well as a representation of the deadly sin of lust ('luxuria' in Latin).[10]


The artist also painted a few late landscapes in addition to his rural scenes. They are atmospheric and painted with a loose touch.[4] These landscapes were influential on other landscape painters such as Lodewijk de Vadder whose Extensive dune landscape with travelers and a dog on a path alongside an inlet clearly draws inspiration from Brouwer's Dune landscape by moonlight (Gemäldegalerie, Berlin).[14]

Adriaen Brouwer - Dune Landscape by Moonlight
Dune landscape by moonlight


Brouwer influenced a large number of Flemish and Dutch painters including Cornelis Saftleven, David Teniers the Younger, Mattheus van Helmont, Hendrik Martenszoon Sorgh, Horatius Bollongier, Giacomo Francesco Cipper, Daniël Boone and Joseph Danhauser.[2][15]


  1. ^ Alternative spellings of name: Adriaan Brouwer, Adriaen Brauwer, Adriaen de Brauwer
  2. ^ a b c Adriaen Brouwer at the Netherlands Institute for Art History (in Dutch)
  3. ^ a b c d e Konrad Renger. "Brouwer, Adriaen." Grove Art Online. Oxford Art Online. Oxford University Press. Web. Konrad Renger, Craesbeeck [Craesbeke], Joos van, Grove Art Online. Oxford University Press. Web. 3 January 2016.
  4. ^ a b c d e f g h i j Matthias Depoorter, 'Adriaen Brouwer' at Baroque in the Southern Netherlands
  5. ^ a b c d e Ingrid A. Cartwright, Hoe schilder hoe wilder: Dissolute Self-Portraiture in Seventeenth-Century Dutch and Flemish Art, Advisors: Wheelock, Arthur, Ph.D., 2007 Dissertation, University of Maryland University of Maryland (College Park, Md.), p. 8
  6. ^ a b c d e f F. J. Van den Branden, 'Adriaan de Brouwer en Joos van Craesbeeck', Dela Montagne, 1882 (in Dutch)
  7. ^ J.H.W. Unger, 'Adriaan Brouwer te Haarlem', Oud-Holland 2 (1884), p. 161-169 (in Dutch)
  8. ^ Liechtenstein, the Princely Collections, Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1985, p. 304-305
  9. ^ Konrad Renger, Craesbeeck [Craesbeke], Joos van, Grove Art Online. Oxford University Press, Web. 3 January 2016.
  10. ^ a b c d Karolien de Clippel; Adriaen Brouwer, Portrait Painter: New Identifications and an Iconographic Novelty, in: Simiolus: Netherlands Quarterly for the History of Art, Vol. 30, No. 3/4 (2003), Stichting Nederlandse Kunsthistorische Publicaties, pp. 196-216
  11. ^ Joos van Craesbeeck, Le Fumeur (portrait de l'artiste ?) at the Louvre (in French)
  12. ^ "Adriaen Brouwer: The Smokers". The Metropolitan Museum of Art. Retrieved 9 January 2015.
  13. ^ Brouwer, Adriaen, Youth Making a Face at the National Gallery of Art
  14. ^ Lodewijk de Vadder, Extensive dune landscape with travelers and a dog on a path alongside an inlet at Lawrence Steigrad Fine Arts
  15. ^ Mattheus van Helmont, A young fiddler making music at Christie’s

External links

1638 in art

Events from the year 1638 in art.


Adriaen is a Dutch form of Adrian. Notable people with the name include:

Adriaen Banckert (1615–1684), Dutch admiral

Adriaen Block (1567–1627), Dutch private trader and navigator

Adriaen Brouwer (1605–1638), Flemish genre painter

Adriaen de Vries (1556–1626), Northern Mannerist sculptor born in the Netherlands

Adriaen Hanneman (1603–1671), seventeenth-century Dutch painter

Adriaen Isenbrandt (1480–1551), Flemish Northern Renaissance painter

Adriaen Maertensz Block (1582–1661), successively captain, commander, and governor of the Ambon Island

Adriaen van Bergen devised the plot to recapture the city of Breda from the Spanish during the Eighty Years' War

Adriaen van de Velde (1636–1672), Dutch animal and landscape painter

Adriaen van de Venne (1589–1662), versatile Dutch Baroque painter

Adriaen van der Cabel (1631–1705), Dutch painter of the Dutch school

Adriaen van der Donck (1618–1655), lawyer and landowner in New Netherland

Adriaen van der Werff (1659–1722), accomplished Dutch painter

Adriaen van Nieulandt the younger (1587–1658), Dutch painter and engraver

Adriaen van Ostade (1610–1685), Dutch genre painter

Adriaen van Utrecht (1599–1652), Flemish Baroque still life painter

Antwerp school

The Antwerp School was a school of artists active in Antwerp, first during the 16th century when the city was the economic center of the Low Countries, and then during the 17th century when it became the artistic stronghold of the Flemish Baroque under Peter Paul Rubens.

Art of the Low Countries

The art of the Low Countries consists of painting, sculpture, architecture, printmaking, pottery and other forms of visual art produced in the Low Countries, and since the 19th century in Belgium in the southern Netherlands and the Netherlands in the north.

From the late Middle Ages until about 1700 the Low Countries were a leading force in the art of northern Europe, thereafter becoming less important. In the earlier High Middle Ages Mosan art, from an area partly in the Low Countries, had had a similar role.

The art of the Low Countries includes the traditions of Early Netherlandish painting and the Renaissance in the Low Countries, before the political separation of the region. After the separation, a protracted process lasting between 1568 and 1648, Dutch Golden Age painting in the north and Flemish Baroque painting, especially the art of Peter Paul Rubens, were the cornerstones of art.


A capotain, capatain or copotain is a tall-crowned, narrow-brimmed, slightly conical "sugarloaf" hat, usually black, worn by men and women from the 1590s into the mid-seventeenth century in England and northwestern Europe. Earlier capotains had rounded crowns; later, the crown was flat at the top.

The capotain is especially associated with Puritan costume in England in the years leading up to the English Civil War and during the years of the Commonwealth. It is also commonly called a Flat Topped Hat and a Pilgrim hat, the latter for its association with the Pilgrims who settled Plymouth Colony in the 1620s. Contrary to popular myth, capotains never included buckles on the front of them; this image was created in the 19th century.

Flemish Baroque painting

Flemish Baroque painting refers to the art produced in the Southern Netherlands during Spanish control in the 16th and 17th centuries. The period roughly begins when the Dutch Republic was split from the Habsburg Spain regions to the south with the Spanish recapturing of Antwerp in 1585 and goes until about 1700, when Habsburg authority ended with the death of King Charles II. Antwerp, home to the prominent artists Peter Paul Rubens, Anthony van Dyck, and Jacob Jordaens, was the artistic nexus, while other notable cities include Brussels and Ghent.Rubens, in particular, had a strong influence on seventeenth-century visual culture. His innovations helped define Antwerp as one of Europe's major artistic cities, especially for Counter Reformation imagery, and his student Van Dyck was instrumental in establishing new directions in English portraiture. Other developments in Flemish Baroque painting are similar to those found in Dutch Golden Age painting, with artists specializing in such areas as history painting, portraiture, genre painting, landscape painting, and still life.

Geneviève Vix

Geneviève Vix née Brouwer (Le Havre, 31 December 1879 – Paris, 25 August 1939) was a French soprano. She was a descendant of the Dutch painter Adriaen Brouwer.

Harmen Hals

Herman, or Harmen Hals (1611, Haarlem – 1669, Haarlem), was a Dutch Golden Age painter.


Häufeln is a simple game of chance using playing cards. Other names for this game are Päckchen wenden, Dutch Bank, Banker and Broker and Blind Hookey. It is named after the piles of cards used in the game, known in German as Häufeln.

Jan Cossiers

Jan Cossiers (Antwerp, 15 July 1600 – Antwerp, 4 July 1671) was a Flemish painter and draughtsman. Cossiers’ earliest works were Caravaggesque genre works depicting low life scenes. Later in his career he painted mostly history and religious subjects as well as portraits. Cossiers was one of the leading painters in Antwerp after Rubens’ death in 1640 and one of the most original colorists in 17th-century Flanders.

Joseph Mulder

Joseph Mulder (1658, Amsterdam – 1742, Amsterdam), was a Dutch Golden Age printmaker, known as a "renowned engraver".An engraving by Mulder illustrates the title page of the 1700 edition, published in Leiden, of Dialogue Concerning the Two Chief World Systems by Galileo. This engraving shows Aristotle, Ptolemy and Copernicus. Mulder worked abroad as well, and produced an engraving of Vienna from a bird's-eye view, in nine prints each measuring one by two feet.Along with Pieter Sluyter, he did many of the etchings for the classic book Insects of Surinam (Metamorphosis Insectorum Surinamensium) based on field drawings done by Maria Sibylla Merian. This book, published in 1726, has been described as "magnificent" and included early scientific study of the metamorphosis of caterpillars into butterflies.

The book Figures de la Bible a La Haye, published in 1728 in The Hague, has an etching by Mulder portraying Adam and Eve as "happy, childlike lovers" with Genesis 2:25 inscribed in six languages: German, Dutch, Hebrew, Latin, English and French. The English translation is "Adam and Eve were both naked and were not ashamed."Mulder's etchings are actively collected today.According to his contemporary, art historian Arnold Houbraken, he was a good etcher who had been the pupil of the Amsterdam painter Hendrick Bogaert in 1672. Houbraken reported that Mulder claimed to have played a similar prank on a baby as Adriaen Brouwer had done. In this anecdote, he had been rocking a baby on his lap. The baby soiled him because its diaper slipped off. He laid the baby on the floor and defecated on it. At that moment, the baby's mother walked in and asked what he was doing. He replied, "het kind heeft my bescheeten, en ik beschyt het weer, dus beschyten wy malkander" (the child shat on me, and now I shat on it, and so we're shitting on each other).According to the Netherlands Institute for Art History, he was an engraver and printmaker who had been a pupil of Bogaert and also followed Romeyn de Hooghe.He made the engravings for the book Veues de Gunterstein for the rich widow Madame de Gunterstein et de Thienhoven (Magdalena Poulle) ca. 1690.

Mattheus van Helmont

Mattheus van Helmont (1623 – after 1685), was a Flemish painter specialized in genre scenes of interiors and village scenes. He was influenced by the style of David Teniers the Younger and Adriaen Brouwer and developed his own personal style towards the final phase of his career. He spent most of his active life in Antwerp but moved to Brussels later.


Mauscheln, also Maus or Vierblatt, is a gambling card game that resembles Tippen, which is commonly played in Germany and the countries of the old Austro-Hungarian Empire.

Pieter Quast

Pieter Jansz. Quast (1605 or '06 – buried 29 May 1647) was a Dutch Golden Age painter and draughtsman, mostly producing small social genre paintings, ranging from elegant merry companies to guardroom scenes and (most numerous) groups of peasants, in a variety of styles which can be related to those of leading artists in these genres, but with personal aspects in the colouring and style. They "are heavily and powerfully rendered in warm shades of brown, set off by strong local colouring in the principal figures. His successful peasant scenes are characterized by the use of strong chiaroscuro and a gentle, harmonious palette. The caricatural quality of Quast’s peasants recalls the work of his fellow-resident of The Hague, Adriaen van de Venne, but Quast’s looser style and many of his individual types are closer to the paintings of Adriaen Brouwer, as well as of Adriaen van Ostade, to whom Quast’s best work has sometimes been ascribed". He also produced finished drawings for sale, often on parchment, and these included landscapes and cityscapes. Some of his works were engraved, though it is not clear if he did this himself.Quast was probably born and certainly died in Amsterdam, but from 1634 to 1641 he lived at The Hague, where he was admitted to the local Guild of Saint Luke in 1634. His pupil was Jan Jansz Buesem. He died in poverty, like many artists of the period.

Roman Brewery

The Roman Brewery (Dutch: Brouwerij Roman) is a beer brewery in Mater, Belgium, in operation since 1545. The brewery has been family-owned since the late sixteenth century; Joos Roman, a bailli until 1604, is considered the pater familias. Unlike many Breweries in the region, which make Belgian style sour beers, the Brouwerij Roman has maintained beers of more German and French styles.Besides beers, the company also produces soft drinks.


Smoker is a noun derived from smoke and may have the following specialized meanings:

Someone who smokes tobacco or cannabis, cigarette substitutes, or various other drugs

Smoking (cooking), smoker, an apparatus for smoking (cooking technique)

Bee smoker, a tool used in beekeeping

A Stag film

The Smokers (painting)

The Smokers is a painting by the Flemish painter Adriaen Brouwer, painted in ca. 1636, probably in Antwerp. It hangs in The Metropolitan Museum of Art, in New York City.The oil-on-wood painting measures 46.40 by 36.80 centimetres (18.27 in × 14.49 in) and is signed by the artist.


A tronie (16/17th-century Dutch for "face") is a common type, or group of types, of works common in Dutch Golden Age painting and Flemish Baroque painting that shows an exaggerated facial expression or a stock character in costume. It is related to the French word “tronche” which is slang for “mug” or head.

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