(b. ca. 1605, Oudenaerde, d. 1638, Antwerp)
Flemish genre painter who influenced artists in both Flanders and Holland.
Brouwer went to study under Frans Hals in Haarlem about 1621, gained a high reputation in Holland, and returned to the South Netherlands in 1631. There he was arrested and imprisoned by the Spaniards as a spy until September 1633. He then settled in Antwerp. Except for a handful of landscapes, apparently from his last years, all of Brouwer's pictures are of subjects drawn from common life - showing peasants smoking, drinking, or brawling in taverns; quack surgeons operating on grimacing patients; and so on. Most of the pictures are small and painted on panel. The coarseness of his subjects contrasts with the delicacy of his style, which in its mature stage shows an unusual mastery of tonal values.
Brouwer's best works are comparable with those of Jan Steen and David Teniers II (both of whom were influenced by him) and have a delicacy of colour combined with a breadth of handling that compensate for his subjects, in which his most fervent admirers see an almost Rembrandtesque pathos. The best collection of his works is in Munich.