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Jan Steen

(Dutch 1626–1679)


Oil on Canvas,
43.5cm x 58.6cm (17.1in x 23.1in)

Jan Havickszoon Steen was a Dutch Golden Age painter, one of the leading genre painters of the 17th century. His works are known for their psychological insight, sense of humour and abundance of colour.

This artwork is typical of Jan Steen’s work – Daily life was his main pictorial theme. Many of the genre scenes he portrayed, as in The Feast of Saint Nicholas, are lively to the point of chaos and lustfulness, even so much that “a Jan Steen household”, meaning a messy scene, became a Dutch proverb (een huishouden van Jan Steen). Many of Steen’s paintings bear references to old Dutch proverbs or literature.

Steen was prolific, producing about 800 paintings, of which roughly 350 survive. His work was valued much by contemporaries and as a result he was reasonably well paid for his work. He did not have many students—only Richard Brakenburgh is recorded —but his work proved a source of inspiration for many painters.