The Smokers

Artist: Adriaen Brouwer (Flemish, Oudenaarde 1605/6–1638 Antwerp)

Date: ca. 1636

Medium: Oil on wood

Dimensions: 18 1/4 x 14 1/2 in. (46.4 x 36.8 cm)

Classification: Paintings

Credit Line: The Friedsam Collection, Bequest of Michael Friedsam, 1931

Accession Number: 32.100.21


The Fleming Brouwer worked in Haarlem and Amsterdam before joining the Antwerp painters' guild in 1621–32. HIs sheer talent and flair for human comedy earned the short-lived artist the esteem of Rubens and Rembrandt. In this famous picture, Brouwer himself (center foreground) plays one of his usual tavern habitués, with the still-life painter Jan de Heem (right) and more derelict companions serving as a chorus of smokers. Ephemeral effects, ranging from shifting highlights to funny faces, were prized as examples of artistic virtuosity.