A moment’s glance at a tavern habitué allows the painter to display his remarkable gifts for describing character as well as physical substances and light effects. "Low life" studies of this kind can be traced back in the Spanish Netherlands through Adriaen Brouwer and his followers to Pieter Bruegel in the 1560s, but Sweerts makes the subject look freshly observed.
?Curt Benedict, Villa de Sachs, Paris, later Zürich (sold to Meissner); [Kurt Meissner, Zürich, in 1961; ?sold to Oppenheim]; ?Hans Oppenheim; ?[Edward Speelman, London]; ?Colonel Hudson, Pershore, Worcestershire, England; Herman and Lila Shickman, New York (1971–2001)
Amsterdam. Rijksmuseum. "The Curious World of Michael Sweerts (1618–1664)," March 9–May 20, 2002, no. XXVI.
Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco. "Michael Sweerts (1618–1664)," June 15–August 25, 2002, no. XXVI.
Hartford, Conn. Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art. "Michael Sweerts (1618–1664)," September 19–December 1, 2002, no. XXVI.
Malcolm R. Waddingham. "Notes on a Caravaggesque Theme." Arte antica e moderna no. 13/16 (1961), p. 317, pl. 142b, as in the Meissner gallery in Zürich; states that it was possibly conceived during Sweerts's stay in Amsterdam, about 1658–61.
Rolf Kultzen. "Michael Sweerts als Bildnismaler." Wiener Jahrbuch für Kunstgeschichte 40 (1987), pp. 216–17, fig. 15, as in a private collection, stating that in 1972 it was with Shickman in New York, from the collection of Colonel Hudson, Pershore.
Rolf Kultzen. Michael Sweerts, Brussels 1618–Goa 1664. Ed. Diane L. Webb. Doornspijk, The Netherlands, 1996, pp. 53, 112, no. 79, pl. 79 and colorpl. XXI, dates it about 1660.
Walter Liedtke in "Recent Acquisitions, A Selection: 2001–2002." Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin 60 (Fall 2002), p. 22, ill. (color), dates it about 1655–60, when Sweerts was working in Brussels.
Eric M. Zafran inMichael Sweerts (1618–1664). Ed. Duncan Bull. Exh. cat., Rijksmuseum. Amsterdam, 2002, p. 61, states that Shickman acquired the work in 1971 from Bruno Meissner.
Peter C. Sutton. Michael Sweerts (1618–1664). Ed. Duncan Bull. Exh. cat., Rijksmuseum. Amsterdam, 2002, pp. 152–53, no. XXVI, ill. (color), as with Kurt Meissner in Zürich, about 1960, and owned by Colonel Hudson before it was acquired by Shickman.
Thomas Döring. "Ausstellungen." Kunstchronik 57 (May 2004), p. 237.
Walter Liedtke. "Toward a New Edition of Flemish Paintings in the Metropolitan Museum of Art." Munuscula Amicorum: Contributions on Rubens and His Colleagues in Honour of Hans Vlieghe. Ed. Katlijne van der Stighelen. Vol. 2, Turnhout, Belgium, 2006, p. 673, fig. 8.