Adriaen Brouwer (1606-1638) Flemish painter 

Adriaen Brouwer was born in the Belgian city of Oudenaarde (below Ghent, on the borders of the Schelde) where he possibly studied with his father, who was a tapestry designer. Between 1625 and 1631 Brouwer stayed in the city of Haarlem, an important centre of Dutch painters.

Brouwer was tutored by Frans Hals, probably together with Adriaen van Ostade. His vigorous peasant genre scenes certainly affected the development of Adriaen and his brother Isack. All but a few of Brouwer's paintings have subjects drawn from common life, showing peasants smoking, drinking, or brawling in taverns, and quack surgeons operating on grimacing patients. The vulgarity of his topics contrasts with his elegant style, which shows an unusual mastery of tonal values and of depicting strong emotions. An illustration par excellence of his style is The Bitter Draught, which is owned by the Städelsches Kunstinstitut in Frankfurt (Germany). You can witness the expressive painting online at

In 1626 Brouwer was member of De Wijngaertranken (Vineyard Branches), a Haarlem chamber of rhetoric to which Hals also belonged. The next year the Belgian immigrant was described as a famous painter of Haarlem.

The Flemish painter returned to Belgium around 1631. In Antwerp, he was included by Anthony van Dyck in a series of portraits of well-known artists, scholars and statesmen. In Flanders he was also arrested and imprisoned by the Spaniards as a spy until September 1633. Brouwer died in 1638. Seventeen of his works were owned by Rubens and six by Rembrandt.

To see some of Brouwer's paintings, you can also visit:

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