Old man in an inn - Adriaen Brouwer

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Old man in an inn

Adriaen Brouwer
Material : 
oil on panel
28.0 cm x 35.0 cm
Inventory number: 
Royal Museum of Fine Arts Antwerp
17th century

Like Rubens, van Dyck and Jordaens, Adriaen Brouwer was one of the great Flemish artists of the 17th century. Yet today, just five of his works are in Flemish hands, including this painting of an Old Man in an Inn. It shows a man sleeping in a chair opposite the stove in the local tavern. Beside him rests an earthenware beer mug. The combination of drink and warmth has apparently made him drowsy. Behind him, the room is dimly lit. A man is expressing his amorous intentions to a woman. Drink, amorous couples and idleness are recurrent motifs in tavern scenes. They refer to the deadly sins of gluttony, lust and sloth, which are often associated with one another. Drinking induces sleep, sleeping stimulates lecherous thoughts, and lechery makes thirsty. Still, the painting goes beyond illustrating the sins. It clearly also contains a warning: above the amorous couple, a man has poked his head through an opening in the wall, suggesting that indecent behaviour never goes unnoticed.