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Jan Steen (c.1626-1679) Dutch Master of Genre Painting

Paintings by Jan SteenThe Artist's Family


"There is a portrait of Jan Steen, by himself, in the Ryks Museum at Amsterdam, which is impressive. It is a strong, handsome, and refined face, three-quarter view; his eyes are turned toward the beholder, who is confronted with a highly intellectual, serious, and almost stern countenance, the very reverse of the drunken profligate and roistering idler he is represented to have been by early chroniclers. Happily, all writers are now agreed in denouncing the great injustice done him by his former biographers. A glance, however, at this sober visage, with its eyebrows partly knit, as if in grave rebuke of his falsifiers, is all the proof one needs in vindication of his character, even if we were not aware that he painted upward of five hundred pictures, most of which are of rare merit, during the short thirty-odd years of his working life. That so incessant and assiduous a toiler could yet find time to mingle with the jovial and the bibulous, is an evidence of the soundness of his heart, rather than of any moral defect." Century Magazine by Timothy Cole,
Volume 47, Issue 2 (December, 1893), en.wikisource.org


Paintings by Jan SteenSelf Portrait

Paintings by Jan SteenWine is a Mocker, 1668-70



Jan Steen was a Dutch genre painter. His grandfather and father were brewers and ran a tavern The Red Halbert. At the age of 28 Steen had his own brewery but with little success. In 1646 he enrolled in Leiden University, studied painting in The Hague, Delft, Haarlem. At the beginning of his career Steen painted portraits and landscapes, but later turned to the scenes from the life of the middle class.
After moving into the household of painter Jan van Goyen, Steen married van Goyen's daughter, Margriet.
They had 8 children. Steen later had a ninth child with a second wife, Maria van Egmont, after Margriet died.
In 1672 his father died, and Steen applied for and obtained permission in Leiden to open a tavern at the neighboring village. Next year he married for the second time, and in 1679 died, and was buried in the parish church of St. Peter at Leyden.

Painting by Jan SteenThe Bean Feast


There are many scenes of tavern life and even debauchery among his masterpieces.
These paintings were inspired by scenes of joy, that he was a witness and participant himself.
Steen was quite prolific, creating around 1000 paintings during his lifetime, of which roughly 350 survive today.
Unlike some artists, Steen was reasonably well-paid and his work was valued by his contemporaries, yet he never had any official students.
"One of his late biographers, M. Van der Willigen, found records in Haarlem that Steen agreed to give, in payment of one year’s rent (1666–1667) of twenty-nine florins, three portraits, "painted as well as he was able," from which we may assume that he did not get very large sums for his work."

Painting by Jan SteenTwelfth Night

 Art of Jan SteenEasy Come, Easy Go

 Art of Jan SteenThe Rhetoricians - "In liefde vrij"

Art of Jan SteenNocturnal Serenade

Art of Jan SteenThe Dissolute Household

Artwork of Jan SteenSelf Portrait as a Lutenist

Artwork of Jan SteenThe Drinker. It is believed that Steen portrayed himself and his wife Margriet in this painting

Artwork of Jan SteenGirl Offering Oysters

Artwork of Jan SteenThe Harpsichord Lesson
Artwork of Jan SteenSchool for Boys and Girls
Artwork of Jan SteenThe Feast of St. Nicholas

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