Description of the picture:
Smokers – David Teniers the Younger. 1644. Wood, oil. 18.6×23
Image of smokers – a popular theme in Dutch and Flemish painting of the XVII century. Tobacco was introduced to the Netherlands from South America at the end of the 16th century. At first it was used for medical purposes, later they began to sniff, and at the beginning of the XVII century. – to smoke.
The fashion for smoking tobacco has embraced all walks of life. Smoking, which was considered evil and vicious, was reproached by the church. That is why the image of smokers almost always had a moralistic meaning, hinted at the temporality of earthly pleasures, and the smoking accessories written in the paintings carried the symbolism of “Vanitas” (“Vanity of vanities”). Teniers turned to this plot under the influence of Adrian Brower.
Two characters are depicted on the Hermitage’s canvas (on the right, in the depths, you can see a man serving a need, a motive typical of Teniers’s work). The smoker shown in the foreground personifies the sense of smell from the allegory “Five Senses” (recall that the personification of the Hearing is represented in the paintings “Duet” and “Flutist”).
Teniers has repeatedly interpreted this topic. Similar figures of smokers are found in his paintings “In the Shred”, “Smokers” and etc."