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Adriaen Brouwer

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Adriaen Brouwer (1605, Oudenaarde - January 1638, Antwerp) was a Flemish genre painter active in Flanders and the Dutch Republic in the seventeenth century.

At a young age Brouwer, probably born as Adriaen de Brauwer, moved perhaps via Antwerp to Haarlem, where he became a student of Frans Hals alongside Adriaen van Ostade. He also was active in stage acting and poetry. He stayed in Haarlem and Amsterdam until 1631, when he moved back to Antwerp in the Spanish Netherlands. There, he became a member of the Guild of St. Luke in 1631 – 1632, as well as the rhetoricians's chamber De Violieren.

Tradition has it that Brouwer himself spent much time in the alehouses of Flanders and Holland. His works are typically detailed and small, and often adopt themes of debauchery, drunkenness and foolishness in order to explore human emotions, expressions and responses to pain, fear and the senses. The Bitter Tonic (illustrated left) is an example of the type of work that depicts such responses, in this case the sense of taste. His work was well-liked, to the point that forgeries were sold in his own time. Both Rubens and Rembrandt owned a number of his works. Nevertheless, Brouwer appeared in financial trouble throughout his life.

He died at the early age of 32 in Antwerp, where he was first buried in a common grave, but, upon instigation of the members of the guild, was reburied on Feb 1, 1638 in the church of the Carmelites.


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