Interior of a Room with Figures: A Man Playing a Lute and a Woman thumbnail 1
Interior of a Room with Figures: A Man Playing a Lute and a Woman thumbnail 2
Image of Gallery in South Kensington
On display at V&A South Kensington
Paintings, Room 81, The Edwin and Susan Davies Galleries

Interior of a Room with Figures: A Man Playing a Lute and a Woman

Oil Painting
ca. 1625 (painted)
Artist/Maker
Place Of Origin

Adriaen Brouwer, (1605/6-1638) was a Flemish painter also active in the northern Netherlands. His paintings are characterised by their thin, partly transparent layers of paint on a light-coloured ground. CAI.80 appears to be one of the artist's early works executed in bright natural colours and is a good example of one of his favourite themes, the representation of the everyday world of peasants and simple folk, not at work, but mainly relaxing at the inn. Brouwer exploited the Dutch tradition of filling the space with figures drinking, card-playing, throwing dice and quarreling and in doing so referred back to a medieval tradition in which these activities were judged in accordance with the Christian canon of vices as the deadly sins of gluttony and anger. His works may be read as an expression of a moralising message - as a warning against excessive drinking, which leads to nausea, quarrels and sloth. This work has a distinguished history. It may have belonged to Brouwer’s fellow artist Rubens, as well as to the 10th Duke of Hamilton, an important 19th-century collector.


object details
Categories
Object Type
Materials and Techniques
oil on oak panel
Brief Description
Interior of a Room with Figures by Adriaen Brouwer (Flemish, 1605 or 1606-1638); oil on oak panel; Belgium; ca.1625
Physical Description
Interior of a Room with a man wearing a smock and beret, sitting at a table and playing the lute, a woman sitting behind the table is singing and eating mussels from a large bowl. Another bowl of mussels on the right, and shells on the floor, at left a black cat licking a bowl.
Dimensions
  • Estimate height: 37cm
  • Estimate width: 29.2cm
  • Frame height: 63.2cm
  • Frame width: 56.6cm
  • Frame depth: 10cm
Dimensions taken from Catalogue of Foreign Paintings, I. Before 1800, C.M. Kauffmann, Victoria and Albert Museum, London, 1973
Style
Marks and Inscriptions
'AB' (Signed by the artist on wall on right (monogram))
Credit line
Bequeathed by Constantine Alexander Ionides
Object history
Possibly identical with a 'Piece de Brouwer' titled 'Vn joüeur de luth' (a lute player) listed in the 'Inventory of Pictures found in the howse of the late Sr Peter Paul Rubens Knt: after his death' printed in French by Jan van Meurs late in 1640, of which an English translation was sent by Sir Balthazar Gerbier to Charles I on 14 July 1640; Jacques Meyer, his sale, Rotterdam, 9 September 1722, lot 169, 202 florins; Duke of Hamilton before 1854; Duke of Hamilton sale, Christie's 17 June 1882, lot 45; bought by Constantine Alexander Ionides for £609 (in his inventory, private collection, as 'Interior of a Cottage with peasant seated playing guitar / a woman seated at a table on which is a pan with mussels / a jug on the ground at her side + a cat licking a kettle an / open door in the background. Hamilton Coll. as A Brouwer / 14 in by 12 in. Dr Waagen Art treasures in G.B. vol. 3. page 294 [ref. on p.300.]'); bequeathed by Constantine Alexander Ionides in 1900.



Historical context
Adriaen Brouwer, (1605/6-1638) was a Flemish painter and draughtsman, also active in the northern Netherlands. Little is known about his early career and training but by 1631–2 he was enrolled in the Antwerp Guild of St Luke as an independent master. His paintings are characterised by thin, partly transparent layers of paint on a light-coloured ground. The figures, subtly differentiated by shading in the colour, are completely integrated with the interiors in order to convey a sense of atmosphere. Drapery is modelled with a pointed brush in short parallel strokes.



Although previously dated to the late 1630s, comparison with the artist's early works such as The Pancake Baker (The Philiadelphia Museum of Art, cat. 681) reveal that CAI.80 is executed in the same bright natural colouration, which become darker and more sparing in his later works, and an almost identical compositional structure. CAI. 80 is typical of Brouwer's favourite themes, the representation of the everyday world of peasants and simple folk relaxing at the inn. Brouwer however, exploited the Dutch tradition of filling the space with figures drinking, card-playing, throwing dice and quarreling. His works may be read as an expression of a moralising message -as a warning against excessive drinking, which leads to nausea, quarrels and sloth.



A mark MV on the reverse of the panel attest that it came from the workshop of the panel-maker Michiel Vrient. Michiel Vrient is recorded as an apprentice in Antwerp in 1605 and as a master panel-maker in 1615. His mark has been found on many panels painted by the great Flemish painter Sir Peter Paul Rubens (1577-1640).



Genre paintings involving low class society, especially peasants, became increasingly popular in the first half of the 17th century in the Netherlands. They were associated with health, liberty and pleasure that could be found in the countryside in response to the new security of the Dutch countryside following the initiation of the Twelve-Years' Truce in 1609. The coarse appearance of Molanear's figures recalls those of the leading figures of the Haarlem school in that field: Adriaen Brouwer (1606-1638) and Adriaen van Ostade (1610-1685).
Production
Although previously dated to the late 1630s, CAI.80 appears to be one of the artist's early works of ca. 1625 due to its bright colouration, composition and close similarity to The Philiadelphia Museum of Art's Pancake Baker (cat. 681) also dated. c. 1625.
Subjects depicted
Summary
Adriaen Brouwer, (1605/6-1638) was a Flemish painter also active in the northern Netherlands. His paintings are characterised by their thin, partly transparent layers of paint on a light-coloured ground. CAI.80 appears to be one of the artist's early works executed in bright natural colours and is a good example of one of his favourite themes, the representation of the everyday world of peasants and simple folk, not at work, but mainly relaxing at the inn. Brouwer exploited the Dutch tradition of filling the space with figures drinking, card-playing, throwing dice and quarreling and in doing so referred back to a medieval tradition in which these activities were judged in accordance with the Christian canon of vices as the deadly sins of gluttony and anger. His works may be read as an expression of a moralising message - as a warning against excessive drinking, which leads to nausea, quarrels and sloth. This work has a distinguished history. It may have belonged to Brouwer’s fellow artist Rubens, as well as to the 10th Duke of Hamilton, an important 19th-century collector.
Bibliographic References
  • Waagen, G. F., Treasures of Art in Great Britain 1854, iii, p. 300
  • G. Knuttel, Adriaen Brouwer, the master and his work, 1962, p. 125, fig. 77.
  • Repr. in colour in Connoisseur, lxxxiv, Dec. 1929, cover, and ibid., xlvi, 1935, p. 84.
  • Kauffmann, C.M. Catalogue of Foreign Paintings, I. Before 1800. London: Victoria and Albert Museum, 1973, p. 48-49, cat. no. 50
  • Jeffrey M. Muller, Rubens: The Artist as Collector, Princeton University Press, New Jersey 1989, p.141, Catalogue I, no. 282.
  • pp. 152-3Katrien Lichtert, Guy Hove, Geertrui van Kerkhoven, Karolien de Clippel, Filip Vermeylen, Angela Jäger, Adriaen Brouwer : master of emotions : between Rubens and Rembrandt, Amsterdam : Amsterdam University Press, [2018]
Collection
Accession Number
CAI.80

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record createdNovember 13, 2002
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