Jan Steen

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Jan Steen
Jan Steen, (born c. 1626, Leiden, Neth.—died Feb. 3, 1679, Leiden), Dutch painter, ranked immediately after Rembrandt and Hals as a painter of everyday scenes. Steen is unique among leading 17th-century Dutch painters for his humour; he has often been compared to the French comic playwright Molière, his contemporary, and indeed both men treated life as a vast comedy of manners. Some of the artist’s biblical and classical paintings such as “Anthony and Cleopatra” (Kunstsammlung der Universität, Göttingen, Ger.) may have been inspired by the contemporary stage. His portraits of rhetoricians (Musées Royaux des Beaux-Arts, Brussels; Worcester Art Museum, Mass.) attest to his interest in these groups of amateur actors.

Steen was enrolled at the University of Leiden in 1646 and in 1648 was one of the founding members of the Leiden painters’ Guild of St. Luke. His early teachers seem to have been the historical painter Nicolaus Knupfer at Utrecht, genre and landscape painter Adriaen van Ostade at Haarlem, and the landscapist Jan van Goyen at The Hague. In 1649 Steen married van Goyen’s daughter and settled at The Hague for the next few years. He moved to Delft in 1654 and to Haarlem in 1661. In 1670 he was back in Leiden, and in 1673 he married again.

In Steen’s landscapes, including his winter scenes, small earthy figures recall those of Adriaen and of Isack van Ostade. In his later works the figures are larger, less crowded, and more individually characterized. He shows them playing cards or skittles, or carousing in their cups, as in “Skittle Players Outside an Inn” (c. 1660; National Gallery, London). His frequent use of inns probably reflects his own background as the son of a brewer and sometime brewer and tavernkeeper himself. He was a master at capturing subtleties of facial expression, especially in children. His best works display great technical skill, particularly in the handling of colour.

During Steen’s last years, his paintings began to anticipate the Rococo style of the 18th century, becoming increasingly elegant and somewhat less energetic, as in the “Serenade” (c. 1675; Národní Galerie, Prague), and showing a heavy French influence and an increased flamboyance.

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A Burgher of Delft and His Daughter
Oil on canvas, 83 x 69 cm
Private collection

Country Wedding
Oil in canvas, 105 x 150 cm
Private collection

The Sick Woman
Oil on canvas, 76 x 64 cm
Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam

Doctor's Visit
Oil on panel, 49 x 42 cm
Wellington Museum, Apsley House, London

The Lovesick Maiden
c. 1660
Oil on canvas, 86 x 99 cm
Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York

The Doctor's Visit
c. 1660
Oil on panel, 63 x 51 cm
The Hermitage, St. Petersburg

The Harpsichord Lesson
c. 1660
Oil on wood, 36,5 x 48,5 cm
Wallace Collection, London

Leaving the Tavern
Oil on canvas, 84 x 109 cm
Staatsgalerie, Stuttgart

Love Sickness
c. 1660
Oil on canvas, 61 x 52 cm
Alte Pinakothek, Munich

The Marriage
Oil on canvas, 131 x 172 cm
Herzog Anton Ulrich-Museum, Braunschweig

Merry Couple
Oil on panel
Stedelijk Museum De Lakenhal, Leiden

The Morning Toilet
Oil on wood, 64,7 x 53 cm
Royal Collection, London

The Morning Toilet
c. 1665
Oil on canvas, 37 x 28 cm
Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam

The Feast of St. Nicholas
Oil on canvas, 82 x 71 cm
Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam

"Oude Vrijer - Jonge Meid"
c. 1665
Oil on oak panel, 41 x 36 cm
Private collection

Tavern Garden
c. 1660
Oil on canvas, 68 x 58 cm
Staatliche Museen, Berlin

The Quackdoctor
Oil on canvas, 33 x 27 cm
Mauritshuis, The Hague

Feast of the Chamber of Rhetoricians near a Town-Gate
Oil on canvas, 64 x 84 cm
Private collection

The Rhetoricians - "In liefde vrij"
Oil on canvas, 86 x 100 cm
Musées Royaux des Beaux-Arts, Brussels

Rhetoricians at a Window
Oil on canvas, 74 x 59 cm
Philadelphia Museum of Art, Philadelphia

Self-Portrait as a Lutenist
Oil on panel, 55 x 44 cm
Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza, Madrid

c. 1670
Oil on canvas, 73 x 62 cm
Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam

Skittle Players Outside an Inn
c. 1660
Oil on wood, 33,5 x 27 cm
National Gallery, London

The Meal
Oil on wood, 41 x 50 cm
Galleria degli Uffizi, Florence

Arrival of a Visitor
Oil on oakwood, 61,6 x 46 cm
Szépmûvészeti Múzeum, Budapest



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