Adriaen Brouwer

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Brouwer, Adriaen

Brouwer or Brauwer, Adriaen (both: äˈdrēänˌ brouˈər), c.1606–1638, Flemish painter who worked in Haarlem. He studied with Hals at the same time as did the young Ostade, and the influence of their two styles, as well as that of Rubens, is apparent in his paintings. Brouwer is noted for his depictions of peasant life, particularly of drinking scenes and humorously treated single figures sleeping or smoking. Brouwer's early canvases were richly colored, in the Flemish style, while his later works (1631–38) were often monochromatic, a characteristic of the contemporary Dutch fashion. Brouwer was also an important master of landscape and a superb draftsman. His Drinkers at a Table (Brussels) and The Smokers (Metropolitan Mus.) are characteristic.


See study by G. Knuttel (tr. 1962).

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Brouwer, Adriaen


Born 1605 or 1606, in Oudenaarde; buried Feb. 1, 1638, in Antwerp. Flemish painter.

A native of Flanders, Brouwer went to Holland about 1621 and worked, for the most part, in Amsterdam and in Haarlem, where he joined Franz Hals’ workshop about 1623-24. In 1631, Brouwer settled in Antwerp. One of the greatest masters of Flemish genre painting, Brouwer addressed himself to the life of the peasants and the urban lower classes, painting primarily scenes of carousing and brawling, of smokers and cardplayers in semidark taverns. Small in size, Brouwer’s paintings neither idealize nor refine but portray the life of the common people with its contradictory and at times gloomy aspects. Along with their spiritual ignorance and rudeness, however, Brouwer emphasized the activity of the simple people, the wholeness of their nature, and the fullness of their vital forces. Brouwer’s early paintings were sharply grotesque and marked by an expressiveness of mimicry and gestures. In his mature works, the characterization of the protagonists is enriched, the dramatic quality of the action is combined with a lyricism of mood, objects acquire a rare expressiveness, dynamic composition is executed with classical meticulousness, and the coloration is saturated and deep. Moreover, the sharp contrasts between patches of color are softened by finely nuanced light haze in such paintings as Peasants Brawling Over a Game of Cards (Gemäldegalerie, Dresden) and A Bitter Drink (Städelsches Kunstinstitut, Frankfurt am Main). In Brouwer’s late paintings, the composition is calmer and simpler, the humor more intimate and benign, and a lyrical and dreamy mood prevails, for example, The Sleeping Smoker (Louvre, Paris) and Self-portrait (Mauritshuis, The Hague). Brouwer also painted rural landscapes, captivating in their portrayal of the intimate, melancholy poetry of evening silence and in their use of dramatic lighting effects, as seen in Moonlight (Gemäldegalerie, Dahlem Museum, West Berlin).


Bode, W. Adriaen Brouwer. Berlin, 1924.
Höhne, E. Adriaen Brouwer. Leipzig [1960].
The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.