Early smoking

Self Portrait in Rome, by Horace Vernet, 1832

This painting at the Cleveland Museum of Art struck me because it depicts what I thought must be one of the earliest images of someone smoking a cigarette. The painting by Horace Vernet is entitled Self Portrait in Rome, and was completed in 1832. Turns out that cigarettes were just coming into fashion across Europe at the time and the word ‘cigarette’ had just been coined in France in 1830. However, the earliest known depiction of someone smoking a cigarette appears in the painting La Cometa by Goya from 1788. This makes sense since Goya was Spanish, and cigarettes were invented in Spain where they were called papelate because they used paper to roll the tobacco.

La Cometa, by Francisco Goya, 1788

About Jonathan

Jonathan Walford is a fashion historian and co-founder of the Fashion History Museum in Cambridge, Ontario. The FHM maintains a collection of nearly 12,000 artifacts dating from the mid 17th century to the present. Jonathan has authored various books and museum catalogues, including The Seductive Shoe, Shoes A-Z, Forties Fashion, 1950s American Fashion, and Sixties Fashion.
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2 Responses to Early smoking

  1. You sure that isn’t a doobie the guy in the Goya painting is smoking? 😉

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