A Drunken Night Cap, Wine is a Mocker

(After) JAN VAN DER BRUGGEN (Brussels c1649 1690 Paris), A Drunken Night Cap, Wine is a Mocker, mezzotint, c. 1720, with artist’s name Mieris lower left in the plate, engraver’s initials JHL lower right in the plate. In generally good condition (water stain verso not visible recto), with small margins, 9 x 7 3/8, the sheet 10 1/4 x 7 3/4 inches.

A fine impression, possibly before letters, on old laid paper with a high crown (?) watermark.

This composition was initially conceived in a drawing (now lost) by Frans Mieris, then engravedby Hendrik Bary (Hollstein 11); later executed in mezzotint by Jan Van der Bruggen in reverse of the initial drawing and engraving, and here again made in mezzotint after Van der Bruggen (also in reverse of Mieris/Bary).

The Bary engraving was extensively lettered with the title, taken from Proverbs (20,1): Wine is a mocker.

The young woman in a drunken stupor is being (in line with the 17th century Netherlands saying) "crowned with a piss-pot" (fortunately empty in this instance) by a drunken fool. This was a popular subject in Dutch art and theatre; the classical source for the story is of Socrates being drenched by his angry wife Xanthippe.

After the Bary engraving of the Mieris drawing, others continued to portray the legend, including this mezzotint after the Van der Bruggen print; there was even an English version by James Wilson in 1772 with the title Dick Funny and Mrs Drowsy or the Punch Bowl Night Cap."