Intellectualizing the everyday : the genre paintings of Adriaen Brouwer
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Flemish painter Adriaen Brouwer (1605/06-1638) spent the most productive years (1626-1627) of his short career working in Haarlem as a member of the city's most popular "Rederijkerskamer" (chamber of rhetoric), "De Wijngaartrancken" (the vine tendrils). Brouwer dwells in his genre scenes on the peculiarities of Dutch culture - its character, institutions, ideas and customs. It is in Brouwer's genre scenes, prized by both Rubens and Rembrandt, that we may note remarkable influences of Holland's new artistic self-awareness. These ideas were propelled by the activities of the Rederijkers. This paper focuses on the intellectual environment of Holland from the year ca.1600 to ca.1630 covering the period surrounding the publication of Karel van Mander's treatise on painting to the explosion of genre painting occurring in the first half of the seventeenth-century. It is my contention that Brouwer's artistic choices are symptomatic of his participation in intellectual milieus. A focused discussion of the writings, traditions and activities of the Rederijkers (and other intellectual sources) reveals consistencies with the prevalent trends in genre painting produced contemporaneously.