The Man with the Hat: Or, the Mystery of Adriaen Brouwer

Man With Bowl

The work of Adriaen Brouwer was virtually never signed and as a result a number of works attributed to the artist are sometimes uncertain or contested. For instance, The Smoker which is now at The Louvre, showing a man exhaling smoke while holding a bottle of liquor, was long attributed Brouwer, but is now credited to his follower and pupil Joos van Craesbeeck.

What’s in a hat?

Just as we cannot be sure that these paintings are the work of Adriaen Brouwer, no can we know for certain that they were produced in the 17th century, let alone in the Netherlands, simply by examining them visually. One element that has raised particular confusion is the hat worn by the man. It doesn’t appear to be a style popular in early 17th century Dutch fashion. Can you suggest when or where this hat may have originated?

Woman with BowlFun fact: On Brouwer’s re-entry to Flanders on 22 September 1633, he was arrested by Spanish troops as they thought he was spy form the Netherlands. He was taken to Het Kasteel, a prison and the headquarters for the Spanish army in Antwerp. It is believed that Peter Paul Rubens had to go to Het Kasteel and testify that Brouwer was not a spy but an artist born in Flanders.

Each week during the Fall semester, Alison Hobbs, our graduate student intern from last year and curator of the current exhibition, “Tales of Mystery and Imagination,” will offer us her thoughts on a particular aspect of the collection. Stop by level 3 of the library to view these objects and learn more! The exhibition will be on display from August 14 through December 15, 2017 in the Terrance L. Mahan, S.J. Archives and Special Collections Gallery.