Skip to Main Content


Frans van Mieris (1635–1681) was one of the most celebrated Leiden fijnschilders ("fine painters"), whose elegant works are marked by smooth execution, invisible brushwork, and extraordinary attention to detail. Gerrit Dou (Dutch, 1613 - 1675), with whom Van Mieris studied, described him as “the prince of all my pupils.” His small paintings of convivial genres, portraits, and allegories with their lively, often ambiguous narratives delighted both local and international collectors. This painting’s first known owner was Augustus the Strong (1670–1733), elector of Saxony and king of Poland, and remained in the Dresden collection until 1927.

Soldier Smoking a Pipe, which dates from about 1657/1658, encompasses all the qualities that earned Van Mieris his fame. The intimate scale of this extraordinarily well-preserved painting, its high degree of refinement (particularly in the soldier’s aubergine costume and the gold fringe of the nearby cloak), and its engaging subject are all characteristics of his finest works. The soldier is most likely a member of the local militia company, judging by the trumpet, banner, and armor on the floor. By the late 1650s, militia companies had a largely ceremonial role and were often called on by their cities to parade during times of celebration. The soldier’s knowing gaze, paired with the deck of cards, half a glass of beer, and empty chair, suggest the aftermath of such an event, and invite the viewer to imagine a humorous, if unexplained, storyline.


on the side of the chair: FvMieris


Augustus the Strong, Elector of Saxony [1670-1733, also King Augustus II of Poland], Dresden;[1] by descent through the Kings of Saxony to the Gemäldegalerie Alte Meister, Dresden;[2] deaccessioned and exchanged 1927 with (Galerie Van Diemen, Berlin);[3] sold 20 October 1927 to August Neuerburg [1884-1944], Hamburg;[4] by descent in the Neuerburg family; (sale, Sotheby's, London, 9 July 2008, no. 28); (Richard Green, London) and (Johnny Van Haeften Ltd., London); sold 2008 to private collection, England; purchased April 2016 through (Johnny Van Haeften, London) by NGA.

Exhibition History

Clouds, Ice, and Bounty: The Lee and Juliet Folger Fund Collection of Seventeenth-Century Dutch and Flemish Paintings, National Gallery of Art, Washington, 2021, no. 18, repro.


Smith, John. A Catalogue Raisonné of the Works of the Most Eminent Dutch, Flemish and French Painters. 9 vols. London, 1829-1842: 1(1829):no. 76.
Siret, Adolphe. Dictionnaire historique des peintres de toutes les écoles. Brussels, 1848: 603.
Blanc, Charles, et al. Histoire des peintres de toutes les écoles. 14 vols. 1861-1876. Ecole hollandaise. 3 vols. Paris, : 23.
Parthey, Gustav Friedrich. Deutscher Bildersaal. Verzeichniss der in Deutschland vorhandenen Oelbilder verstorbener Maler aller Schulen. 2 vols. Berlin, 1863-1864: 2(1864):127, no. 15.
Lemcke, Carl. "Frans van Mieris." In Robert Dohme, ed. Kunst und Künstler, Deutschlands und der Niederlände bis um die Mitte des achtzehnten Jahrhunderts. Leipzig, 1878: 23.
Gower, Lord Ronald. The Figure Painters of Holland. London, 1880: 112.
Hübner, Julius. Verzeichnis der Königlichen Gemälde-Gallerie zu Dresden. Dresden, 1880: no. 1588.
Champlin, John Denison, Jr., and Charles C. Perkins, eds. Cyclopedia of painters and paintings. 4 vols. New York, 1887: 3:265.
Woermann, Karl. Katalog der Königlichen Gemäldegalerie zu Dresden. Dresden, 1896: 569, no. 1747(1588).
Woermann, Karl. Katalog der Königlichen Gemäldegalerie zu Dresden. Dresden, 1902: 562, no. 1747(1588).
Woermann, Karl. Katalog der Königlichen Gemäldegalerie zu Dresden. Dresden, 1905: 560, no. 1747(1588).
Addison, Julia de Wolf. The Art of the Dresden Gallery. Boston, 1906: 316.
Wurzbach, Alfred von. Niederlandisches Kunstler-Lexikon. 3 vols. Vienna, 1906-1911: 2(1910):165.
Hofstede de Groot, Cornelis. Beschreibendes und kritisches Verzeichnis der Werke der hervorragendsten holländischen Maler des XVII. Jahrhunderts. 10 vols. Esslingen and Paris, 1907-1928: 1(1907):27, no. 93.
Gemäldegalerie (Dresden, Germany). Katalog der Königlichen Gemäldegalerie zu Dresden. Dresden and Berlin, 1912: 172, no. 1747.
Williamson, George Charles, ed. Bryan's Dictionary of Painters and Engravers. 5 vols. London, 1927: 5:336.
Hourticq, Louis. Hollande en Histoire Générale de l'Art. Paris, 1932: 306.
Plietzsch, Eduard. Holländische und flämische Maler des XVII. Jahrhunderts. Leipzig, 1960: 52.
Vries, Lyckle de. "Jan Steen, 'de kluchtschilder'." Ph.D. dissertation, Rijksuniversiteit, Groningen, 1977: 47, 128, no. 73.
Naumann, Otto. Frans van Mieris (1635-1681), the Elder. 2 vols. Doornspijk, 1981: 1:44, 2:17, no. 13, pl. 13.
Buvelot, Quentin. Frans van Mieris, 1635-1681. Exh. cat. Royal Picture Gallery Mauritshuis, The Hague; National Gallery of Art, Washington, 2005-2006. The Hague, Washington, and Zwolle, 2005: 84, pl. 5b.

Related Content

  • Sort by:
  • Results layout:
Show  results per page
The image compare list is empty.