Adriaen Brouwer (Flemish, 1606?–1638)
Oil on wood
18 1/4 x 14 1/2 in. (46.4 x 36.8 cm)
The Friedsam Collection, Bequest of Michael Friedsam, 1931 (32.100.21)
Adriaen Brouwer, who specialized in tavern and low-life scenes, worked in Haarlem and Amsterdam and spent the last seven or eight years of his brief life in Antwerp. According to tradition, the present painting represents the artist and his friends drinking and smoking. Comparison with portraits of artists such as those in van Dyck's Iconography suggests that the foreground figure blowing smoke rings may be Brouwer himself, the man to the right of him, the painter Jan Cossiers, and the man at the right filling his pipe, the painter Jan Davidsz. de Heem. The picture was probably executed in Antwerp about 1636. It may have been among the seventeen paintings by Brouwer listed in the inventory of Rubens' collection. In the nineteenth century, it was in the Steengracht collection in the Hague, where it aroused the enthusiasm of the French critic Thoré-Bürger.