The composition itself is pretty self explanatory, as a young man enthusiastically sups away from a wineskin. His friend sits besides him and enjoys a small snack as they relax besides a series of trees. Behind them are a number of figures who appear older and of greater standing. It is perhaps an attempt to symbolise the downsides of gluttony, where those who succumb to this temptation will struggle to live worthwhile lives. All of the cartoon tapestries were placed in the Royal Palace of Madrid before later moving into the collection of the Museo del Prado, where they all can be found today. Goya's career is particularly well represented by this art institution, but their permanent offering all covers many other notable Spanish artists as well.
The tapestries were all intended to be hung in the Monastery of El Escorial, with a specific location for each one already decided. This was therefore quite a considerable commission for the artist, both in the number of artworks that he produced for it, but also in the prominent spot that they were to be placed. Many of the other cartoons are also featured within this website and the overall series is consistent in style throughout. The general view of these works is that they were inspired by classical Italian art, making this something of a divergence from the darker period for which this artist remains most famous. You will be able to see all of these different styles at the Prado Museum in Madrid, making it an excellent and comprehensive study of his career.
Some of the other works found in this series included Dance on the Banks of the Manzanares, A Fight at the Venta Nueva, The Parasol and The Kite. Goya enjoyed some fantastic connections during his career and this allowed him to win some major commissioned pieces that helped him to raise his profile yet further. It also alerted notable figures from abroad to learn more about his career and they also started to desire his services having seen what he had already achieved within Spain. The Drinker specifically is believed to have been inspired by a novel titled Lazarillo de Tormes, which featured a boy with a cane and a blind drinker, both of whom are also found in the foreground of this piece.