Smokers from Brittany
About 1900 no part of France was more famous for their typical smokers' types as Brittany. Fishermen were serious smokers, generally using a short clay pipe, thoroughly brown by its intense use.
Their grotesque looks, face tanned by wind and sea, dressed in wax coats, made them photogenic. Photographers made hundreds of portraits of these sailors at that time: without exception with a stump of a pipe between their teeth.
For women who stayed behind repairing nets and selling fish, smoking a pipe was as common as for their husbands. Especially old widows were arduous smokers. As counterpart to the many portraits of men, unique series of photographs of women smoking a pipe are known. The clay tobacco pipe was their favourite.
The portraits of coastal men and women show pipes with no special decoration at all. They smoked plain, short stemmed cutties, using the old pipe even when the stem got broken. One fisherman is an exception. Perhaps his favourite clay got broken during the posing. He is depicted with the famous Jacob pipe, a highly decorated farmer’s pipe not really popular among sailors.
Illustrations on this page from the collections of Amsterdam Pipe Museum
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