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Arent (?) Diepraem, A Peasant seated smoking

Key facts
Full title A Peasant seated smoking
Artist Arent (?) Diepraem
Artist dates 1622 - 1670
Date made about 1650
Medium and support Oil on oak
Dimensions 28.5 × 23 cm
Inscription summary Signed
Acquisition credit Presented by Dr J. Seymour Maynard through the Art Fund, 1920
Inventory number NG3534
Location Not on display
Collection Main Collection
A Peasant seated smoking
Arent (?) Diepraem

Whatever the purpose of this picture, the subject – a shabby man clutching an ale mug and pipe, his eyes cast to the ceiling as if searching in vain for a thought – is meant to be an object of ridicule. It has been suggested that the image might be a vanitas, an allegory of the fleeting nature of life, gone like a puff of smoke from a pipe. Another possibility is that it’s a tronie (‘face’), a painting of a stock character often with an exaggerated facial expression.

Diepraem made a speciality of such pictures, either single tronie portraits or groups of peasants partying in an inn, with the same outlandish expressions – and often with a similar blue and grey jug somewhere in the scene, containing Rhenish wine.

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