Portraits of smokers

In the early seventeenth century smoking has little status. So, there are no ordered portraits of smokers yet. The oldest depictions of smokers are usually farmers’ types that are fooled with their odd habit of smoking a pipe.

The smokers’ portrait does not exist till the early seventeenhundreds. By that time the pipe had gained status and became an attribute to highlight someone’s personality.

Portraits with smokers are not for the high layers of society. It was the middle-class that smoked a pipe. Studying smokers in art, we see that only the extravagant persons, paying lots of attention to their dressing and accessories, are shown with a tobacco pipe. The upper class uses snuff tobacco, for which a costly snuff box sometimes indicate their wealth and status.

Especially in the nineteenth century the long Gouda clay pipe becomes an item beloved by the middle class, an attribute for a gentleman but never for the rich.

On the contrary, the dandies are depicted with an elaborately decorated cheroot holder. However, the number of pictures of these smokers is relatively small.

Photography is an excellent way to depict characteristic persons. Extend series of picture postcards show smokers, often types of people The fisherman with his cutty is the most characteristic. From the beginning of the twentieth century a series of picture postcards with types from a certain region wearing a local costume survive.

The illustrated coloured lithographic cards printed in Breda served as advertisements for a Dutch caramel factory. It certainly is the last series of smokers from traditional pipes. Not much later the use of the tobacco pipe became more international in fashion and the characteristic local styles of pipe disappeared.

a smoker with a short clay pipe, on the table a paper with tobacco and an earthenware brazier, etching, Adriaen van Ostade, Haarlem, the Netherlands, 1665-1685 smoker sitting at a table, lighting his pipe in a brazier, etching, Adraen van Ostade, Haarlem, the Netherlands, 1665-1685
caricatural portrait of a man with a short clay pipe, coloured etching, France, 1780-1810
portrait of manufacturer Maarten Bakker with long clay pipe, on the table a tobacco jar, spittoon and brazier, Krommenie, the Netherlands, 1830-1840
a farmer from Sealand in local dress with silver buttons on his belt and a traditional clay pipe, lithograph, the Netherlands, 1840-1880
man with a long pipe inspecting a barometer, steel engraving after August Allebé, the Netherlands, 1880-1900
smoking man at home reading the news paper, lithograph after a painting of Taanman, the Netherlands, 1880-1900
fashionable person smoking a cheroot in a horn shaped cigar holder, Ludwig Löffler, Germany, 1840-1860
farmer from Sealand filling his short clay from his brass tobacco box, isle Walcheren, Sealand, the Netherlands, 1890-1900
a man with  Bask hat and clay tobacco pipe in Dutch style, Biarritz, France, 1890-1900 woman in traditional dress smoking a reed stem mounted clay pipe, Pontivy, France, 1900-1910
portrait of a Dutch pipe smoker by the artist Jan Vet, Amsterdam, 1896
Abraham Kuyper on his working table, Amsterdam, Jan Vet, 1890-1900
fisherman with short clay and cover, Volendam, the Netherlands, 1900-1915 fisherman smoking a modern briar pipe, Knokke, Belgium, 1900-1920 portrait of a fisher man with clay pipe, the Netherlands, 1900-1910
a sailor wit typical hat smoking a briar pipe, Lombardsije, Belgium, 1920-1940 cartoon for the free maconery with a man smoking a clay, England, 1910-1920
a fashionable man with a bent so called uncle Paul between the lips, Schuermans, the Netherlands, 1916
the English dandy with a short clay pipe, lorgnon and top hat, advertisement picture of a Caramel factory, Breda, the Netherlands, 1910-1920 a pipe with a pre-coloured meerschaum bowl and a silver lid, the shape of the bowl is derived from the Hungarian pipe, advertisement picture of a Caramel factory, Breda, the Netherlands, 1910-1920 coquette and self assured smoking a cigar in a meerschaum cheroot holder, advertisement picture of a Caramel factory, Breda, the Netherlands, 1910-1920
the meeschaum pipe here shows a heavier base than normal and a nicely worked lid, advertisement picture of a Caramel factory, Breda, the Netherlands, 1910-1920
a characteristic s-shaped stem with a wooden bowl covered  with a pointed lid, advertisement picture of a Caramel factory, Breda, the Netherlands, 1910-1920 the shape of the bowl refers to products from Venice, mounted with a simple reed stem, advertisement picture of a Caramel factory, Breda, the Netherlands, 1910-1920 here the tobacco pipe looks more as fantasy, advertisement picture of a Caramel factory, Breda, the Netherlands, 1910-1920
with its straight thin stem and typical bowl this pipe transfers the person into an aristocrat, advertisement picture of a Caramel factory, Breda, the Netherlands, 1910-1920
the famous kiseru with its small metal bowl and bamboo stem, advertisement picture of a Caramel factory, Breda, the Netherlands, 1910-1920 a pipe from Marocco with a ceramic bowl and a thick stem, advertisement picture of a Caramel factory, Breda, the Netherlands, 1910-1920 a farmer from Transvaal smoking a simple short clay, advertisement picture of a Caramel factory, Breda, the Netherlands, 1910-1920
typical Asian pipe with metal bowl and wooden stem, advertisement picture of a Caramel factory, Breda, the Netherlands, 1910-1920
Illustrations on this page from the collections of Amsterdam Pipe Museum
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