Jan Steen
Tavern Scene, n.d.
Oil on panel, 55 x 67 cm.
Inventory number: 0055NMK
Bestowed, 1908


A small group of people is gathered inside the dim tavern. A peasant, a soldier lifting his glass, and a plump, young woman dressed in a green tunic lined with fur are seated around the table. Next to the table stands the proprietress with heavy, drooping shoulders, accepting money from a stout peasant with a hen in a cage slung over his shoulder. The plump figures with large heads and small, expressive faces are characteristic of Jan Steen’s genre paintings with subjects from domestic interiors or inn and tavern scenes such as this one. The work is highly realistic in its rich details, such as the depiction of the glass and the glass bottle, the spoon, pipe and the violin on the wall behind the figures. On the wall over the peasant with the hen, the artist has signed the painting “Steen”.


Jan Steen (1626–1679)
Jan Steen was a student of the painter Jan van Goyen and one of the most important contributors to the characteristic folk and genre painting that arose in the Netherlands in the 1600s. The core of his work consists of images with scenes from everyday life in the Dutch lower and middle classes, often lively, disorderly tavern scenes and tumultuous family gatherings. Jan Steen had his subjects right at hand, as he occasionally worked as an innkeeper. The narrative and theatrical aspect as well as a humorous tone with an underlying moral point are traits that pervade the artist’s oeuvre.

Translator: Jennifer Russell

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