1623 – 1679

A Drinker with a Stoneware Pitcher and a Smoker with a Pipe


Oil on Canvas




20(h) x 19.5(w) cms


Signed and Dated: 'M V Hellemont /1649'



Mattheus van Helmont may have begun his career as a pupil of David Teniers; in any case he was heavily influenced by his contemporary Teniers and by Adriaen Brouwer. In 1646 he was elected a member of the Guild in Antwerp. In 1674 Helmont left Antwerp, allegedly due to his unruly character and the large debts he had accrued, and established himself permanently in Brussels.

He specialised in Flemish peasant scenes and kermesses as well as sunny market scenes, which would indicate that he may have travelled to Italy at some time in his career, although this is highly unlikely. Certain biographers like Bryan considered that he travelled to Paris where he was introduced to King Louis XIV who much appreciated his work. This is probably incorrect as it was most likely his son, Jan, who was born in 1640, who was to make this journey.

Matheus van Helmont is known to have contributed the staffage to landscapes by his fellow contemporary, Jacques d'Arthois.


The pitcher which the man is holding appears to be a salt-glazed stoneware jug known as a 'ball-belly pitcher' which was used for serving beer or wine. Jugs of this type were produced Westerwald in Germany. The jugs were transported up the Rhine river and into the Low Countries.