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Jan (1626) Steen (1626 - 1679)

Lot 17: JAN HAVICKSZ. STEEN LEIDEN 1626 - 1679


July 7, 2004
London, United Kingdom

More About this Item


signed lower centre: Steen

oil on canvas


64 by 84 cm.; 26 5/8 by 32 3/4 in.


Delft, Het Prinsenhof, 17 June-7 July 19?


J. Smith, A Catalogue Raisonné... vol. IX, Supplement..., London 1842, p. 496, no. 58;
T. van Westrheene, "Jan Steen", in Études sur l'art en Hollande, The Hague 1856, no. 157;
C. Hofstede de Groot, A Catalogue Raisonné... vol. I, London 1907, p. 144, no. 536;
A. Heppner, "The popular theatre of the Rederijkers in the work of Jan Steen and his contemporaries", in The Journal of the Warburg and Courtauld Institutes, vol. III, 1939, pp. 31-2, reproduced fig 3c;
K. Braun, Alle tot nu toe bekende schilderijen van Jan Steen, Rotterdam 1980, p. 124, no. 275, reproduced p. 125.



David Texeira Junior;
His deceased sale, The Hague, De Vries, 23 July 1832, lot 71, for 1,700 Florins;
Martini, caissier chez Rothschild, Paris;
His sale, Paris, Bonnefons, 23 March 1844, for 3,450 Francs;
Baron de N***;
His sale, Paris, Boussaton, 25 March 1857, for 3,200 Francs;
With Kleinberger, Paris;
Marquis d'Aoust, Paris, 1908;
With Kleinberger, Paris, by 1911;
Lundwig Mandl, Wiesbaden;
His widow's sale, Amsterdam, F. Muller, 13 July 1926, lot 656, when bought by Staal;
With Staal, until at least 1958, according to Braun under Literature;
Anonymous sale ('The Property of a Gentleman'), London, Christie's, 12 December 1980, lot 19;
With Gebr. Douwes, Amsterdam;
Anonymous sale, London, Sotheby's, 6 December 1989, lot 89;
Bought by the present owner through Robert Pintelon in 1996.


Rhetoricians, or to use their more precise Dutch name Rederijkers, were members of amateur dramatic and literary societies called Rederijkerskamers. Membership was by no means limited to literary figures: many painters, including Carel van Mander, Hendrick Goltzius, Frans Hals and Adriaen Brouwer were rederijkers. Jan Steen is not known to have been a member, but their public activities, often comic, would obviously have appealed to him, and the witty interraction between figures who invite caricatural treatment could not have been better suited to his lively brush. Steen painted several other pictures depicting them, including two in which they perform at a window (Philadelphia, Museum of Art, and Worcester, Mass., Art Museum; see H. Perry Chapman, in Jan Steen. Painter and Storyteller, exhibition catalogue, Washington, National Gallery of Art, 28 April-17 August 1996, & Amsterdam, Rijksmuseum, 21 September 1996-12 January 1997, pp. 176-9, no. 24, reproduced in colour, and fig. 2).

Albert Heppner identified the subject (see Literature). He points out that it was customary for town magistrates to place unused rooms at town-gates at the disposal of Rederijkers, whose records confirm that this was often the case. The timber-framed building in the present picture appears to have been constructed for the use of the Rederijkers, and it bears the comic inscription along the beam: Als men wel lostig heeft gesopen en gevreten, de vriendelijke pypen vol toch niet vergeten Niet Zonder Dat, which can be read as "When one has right merrily eaten and drunk, one must not forget the friendly pipes". The spot was clearly used for the Rederijkers' regular feasts, such as the one seen here, but the inscription also refers to the likely use of the space under the building as a stage for musical and dramatic performances. A similar structure occurs in another painting by Jan Steen, formerly in the collection of Lord Desborough (see Heppner under Literature, pp. 32-3, reproduced fig. c).

The Rederijkers customarily hung their emblem, usually a short witty phrase, pun, or double-entendre, in a blazon (lozenge-shaped shield) outside their chamber. Jan Steen depicted them in several other pictures, including those in Washington and Worcester mentioned above). The emblem seen here in the blazon hanging from a nail: Niet Sonder Dat ; has a double meaning: "Not without that", and (accordong to Heppner) "Not without fault". This motto had been chosen for his device by J. van Mosscher, probably the father of the landscape painter Jacob van Mosscher. Albert Heppner inferred from this that Steen painted the present picture for Van Mosscher, whom he thought Steen would have known in Haarlem (idem). This must remain conjecture, since Mosscher, whose date of death is not known was not active as a painter after 1655, but it does at least make it likely that this picture dates from Jan Steen's decade-long sojourn in Haarlem, between 1660 and 1670, with which it is also consistent in style.

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Old Master Paintings, Part 1

July 7, 2004, 12:00 AM EST

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