The loose brushwork on this octagonal panel—its original shape—captures the bustle of a tavern interior as caught in a corner of the viewer's eye. Although the painting's attribution to Hals has been questioned occasionally, the execution is entirely typical of his less ambitious genre pictures dating from the 1620s.
This genre picture of the 1620s, which retains its original shape, has been described by scholars as a workshop replica of a slightly different composition (on a round panel) formerly in the Museum Stadt Königsberg (Kaliningrad) and, alternatively, as an original painting by Hals. Slive, Grimm, and Valentiner have accepted an attribution to Hals (the latter two after earlier rejecting it).
Juxtaposition with Young Man and Woman in an Inn ("Yonker Ramp and His Sweetheart") (MMA 14.40.602) strongly supports the view that the two paintings are by the same artist. This is especially evident in the deft description of hair and lace, and in the modeling of the female faces (which conform to a single type). This picture was probably painted more quickly, as an inexpensive work for the open market. The wood support in good part accounts for the slicker appearance of the loose brushwork, an effect the painter exploits especially in the young man's slashed doublet and in the play of light on his face. A date of about 1625 is plausible. The panel was certainly painted after Young Man and Woman in an Inn, from which the design to some extent derives.
In the 1620s, smoking and drinking were regarded as similar weaknesses, with the former having the added detraction of being a new fad. This panel was intended not as a moralizing commentary but as a comic glance at human nature.
[2011; adapted from Liedtke 2007]
R. G. Wilberforce, London (in 1887); Henry G. Marquand, New York (until 1889)
London. Royal Academy of Arts. "Winter Exhibition," 1887, no. 95 (as "Three Heads," by Frank [sic] Hals, lent by R. G. Wilberforce).
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Exhibition of 1888–89," 1888–89, no. 30 (as "Sketch of a Smoker").
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "The Hudson-Fulton Celebration," September–November 1909, no. 22 (as "The Smoker").
New York. Hunter College. "Dutch Celebration," April 27–May 11, 1953, no catalogue?
Worcester Art Museum. "Judith Leyster: A Dutch Master and Her World," September 19–December 5, 1993, no. 21.
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "The Age of Rembrandt: Dutch Paintings in The Metropolitan Museum of Art," September 18, 2007–January 6, 2008, no catalogue.
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Frans Hals in the Metropolitan Museum," July 26–October 10, 2011, no catalogue.
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art [The Met Breuer]. "Unfinished: Thoughts Left Visible," March 18–September 4, 2016, unnumbered cat. (colorpl. 26).
Wilhelm R. Valentiner. The Hudson-Fulton Celebration: Catalogue of an Exhibition Held in The Metropolitan Museum of Art. Exh. cat., The Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York, 1909, vol. 1, p. 23, no. 22, ill. opp. p. 23.
E[rnst]. W[ilhelm]. Moes. Frans Hals, sa vie et son œuvre. Brussels, 1909, p. 109, no. 212, as "Un fumeur avec deux femmes. (Réplique)".
Kenyon Cox. "Dutch Pictures in The Hudson-Fulton Exhibition—I." Burlington Magazine 16 (December 1909), p. 178, as "in the catalogue but not in the exhibition".
Cornelis Hofstede de Groot. A Catalogue Raisonné of the Works of the Most Eminent Dutch Painters of the Seventeenth Century. Ed. Edward G. Hawke. Vol. 3, London, 1910, p. 37, under no. 133, calls it a replica of the painting in the Königsberg museum, noting that the main figure is worthy of Hals but that the other two are inferior.
Joseph Breck. "L'art hollandais à l'exposition Hudson-Fulton à New York." L'art flamand & hollandais 13, no. 2 (1910), p. 51, ill. p. 49 [published in Dutch in Onze Kunst 17 (January 1910), p. 8, ill. p. 7].
E[mil]. Waldmann. "Die Ausstellung Holländischer Gemälde des 17. Jahrhunderts in New York." Zeitschrift für bildende Kunst, n.s., 21, no. 4 (1910), ill. p. 73.
Wilhelm R. Valentiner. "Die Ausstellung holländischer Gemälde in New York." Monatshefte für Kunstwissenschaft 3, no.1 (1910), p. 6, dates it about 1625; as earlier ascribed to the school of Hals, but to be rightfully attributed to Hals himself by Hofstede de Groot.
Berthold Haendcke. "Der Raucher von Franz Hals in Königsberg." Zeitschrift für bildende Kunst, n.s., 21 (1910), p. 301.
Handbook of the Benjamin Altman Collection. New York, 1914, p. 29, under no. 19.
Wilhelm von Bode, ed. Frans Hals, His Life and Work. Berlin, 1914, vol. 1, p. 25, no. 6, pl. 4B, as "The Smoker and His Girl".
François Monod. "La Galerie Altman au Metropolitan Museum de New-York (2e article)." Gazette des beaux-arts, 5th ser., 8 (November 1923), p. 302, calls it a copy after the original in Königsberg.
Wilhelm R. Valentiner. Frans Hals, des meisters Gemälde. 2nd ed. Stuttgart, 1923, p. 307, calls it probably a revision from Hals's workshop after the original in Königsberg.
Handbook of the Benjamin Altman Collection. 2nd ed. New York, 1928, p. 62, under no. 28.
Führer durch die Schausammlungen. Vol. 2, Gemäldekatalog. [Königsberg], [1934?], p. 33, under no. 57.
W. R. Valentiner. Frans Hals Paintings in America. Westport, Conn., 1936, no. 5, ill. [cat. section unpaginated], as "A Boy Smoking and a Laughing Girl"; believes both it and the Königsberg paintings to be originals; finds the composition and execution very similar to those of "Young Man and Woman in an Inn" (MMA, 14.40.602) and dates it about 1623.
Calvin Tomkins. Merchants and Masterpieces: The Story of The Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York, 1970, pp. 74, 172 [rev., enl. ed., 1989].
Seymour Slive. Frans Hals. Vol. 1, Text. London, 1970, pp. 76–77, 79–80, attributes it to Hals and dates it about 1623–25, comparing it with "Young Man and Woman in an Inn"; notes that the setting appears to be a tavern; discusses the meaning of the work, suggesting that it could be a moralizing genre picture or that it could represent the sense of taste and be part of a series of the five senses.
Seymour Slive. Frans Hals. Vol. 2, Plates. London, 1970, pl. 41.
Claus Grimm. Frans Hals: Entwicklung, Werkanalyse, Gesamtkatalog. Berlin, 1972, pp. 63, 92 n. 100, p. 200, no. A7, calls it a copy after a lost original, dating it 1624–26 on p. 63 and 1624–25 on p. 200.
Seymour Slive. Frans Hals. Vol. 3, Catalogue. London, 1974, pp. 14–15, no. 21.
E. C. Montagni inL'opera completa di Frans Hals. Milan, 1974, pp. 89–90, under no. 25, fig. 25a.
Walter Liedtke. "Dutch Paintings in America: The Collectors and Their Ideals." Great Dutch Paintings from America. Exh. cat., Mauritshuis, The Hague. Zwolle, The Netherlands, 1990, p. 36.
Jean L. Druesedow in "Recent Acquisitions, A Selection: 1989–1990." Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin 48 (Fall 1990), p. 56.
Claus Grimm. Frans Hals: The Complete Work. New York, 1990, pp. 178, 237–38, 273, 291, no. 17, ill. p. 273 and colorpls. 76a (detail), 76b [German ed., "Frans Hals: Das Gesamtwerk," Stuttgart, 1989, pp. 178, 237, 272, 284, no. 17, colorpls. 76a (detail), 76b], after close examination, changes his earlier opinion [see Ref. 1972] and attributes the painting to Hals, noting that the head of the girl is inferior in execution and must be the work of a student; dates it about 1623.
Pieter Biesboer inJudith Leyster: A Dutch Master and Her World. Exh. cat., Worcester Art Museum. Zwolle, The Netherlands, 1993, p. 80, dates it 1625–30.
Cynthia Kortenhorst-von Bogendorf Rupprath inJudith Leyster: A Dutch Master and Her World. Exh. cat., Worcester Art Museum. Zwolle, The Netherlands, 1993, pp. 246–51, no. 21, ill. (color), dates it slightly later than 1623–25, based on costume and composition.
Lawrence W. Nichols. Letter to Walter Liedtke. December 11, 1995, rejects the attribution to Hals.
Dennis P. Weller inJan Miense Molenaer: Painter of the Dutch Golden Age. Exh. cat., North Carolina Museum of Art. Raleigh, 2002, pp. 67–68 n. 2, fig. 2.
Esmée Quodbach. "The Age of Rembrandt: Dutch Paintings in The Metropolitan Museum of Art." Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin 65 (Summer 2007), pp. 28, 70.
Walter Liedtke. Dutch Paintings in The Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York, 2007, vol. 1, pp. ix, 263 n. 4, pp. 266–69, no. 60, colorpl. 60, states that a date of about 1625 is plausible.
Andrea Bayer inUnfinished: Thoughts Left Visible. Exh. cat., The Metropolitan Museum of Art [The Met Breuer]. New York, 2016, p. 293, colorpl. 26.