By JAN STEEN (l626?-1679)

The love of art among the English has found striking expression from time to time in a rescue from oblivion of the fame of some great artist whose masterpieces had long been unrecognised. Foreign observers have paid tribute to the discernment of English buyers who bought Steen's pictures in such numbers that the greater part of them (at least two-thirds) found their way to this country. To some extent this is accounted for by his boisterous humour, which found an echoing response in the English temperament. Sir Joshua Reynolds was so captivated with his work that he declared that "Steen's style might become even the design of a Rafaelle," while C. R. Leslie, R.A., described him as " the greatest genius of the Dutch painters of familiar life." Though at times he falls short of his highest standard, in his best work he excels the whole Dutch School in his originality, while he yields place to none in his technical mastery and his colouring.

Much of Steen's life is wrapped in obscurity, but it seems certain that after living in Leyden, his birthplace, from 1648 to 1658, he proceeded to Delft, where he set up a brewery. The venture was not successful. and he went on to Haarlem, where he joined the Painters' Guild, in 1661. Like some of our English painters he combined a genius for painting with jovial habits which were not marked by moderation. In spite of this he produced a large number of pictures, showing incidents of the everyday life with which he was acquainted. His general note is one of humour, and it is but rarely that he discards it for the quiet harmony of domestic scenes which gives an added interest to such pictures as " Grace Before Meat".

From the book "Famous Paintings" Volume 2 printed in 1913.

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Online "Name the Painting"

Jan Steen Paintings
at Olga's Gallery

Jan Steen Biography
at Olga's Gallery

Jan Steen
at Wikipedia

Jan Steen Genre Paintings
at Web Gallery of Art (2 pages)

Steen Paintings
at Wikipedia

Famous Paintings in this Series

James Archer
My Great Grandmother

The Meeting


John Brett
From the Dorsetshire Cliffs

Arnesby Brown
The River Bank

Joseph Clark
Mother's Darling

John Constable
The Hay-Wain

Jean Baptiste Camille
The Fisherman's Hut

Jean Baptiste Camille
A Flood

Leonardo Da Vinci
Monna Lisa

Edouard Detaille
The Dream

Henri Fantin-Latour

Thomas Gainsborough
Queen Charlotte

Thomas Gainsborough
The Market Cart

Jean Baptiste Greuze
The Head of a Girl

Jean Baptiste Greuze

James Clark Hook
Home With the Tide

Alfred William Hunt
Windsor Castle

Josef Israels
The Shipwrecked Mariner

B.W. Leader
The Stream in Summer-time

Madame Vigee Le Brun
Portrait of the Artist

Alphonse Legros
A Canal With a Fisherman

Anton Mauve
Watering Horses

J.L.E. Meissonier
The Cavalier

Sir J.E. Millais
Speak! Speak!

Sir J.E. Mallais
My First Sermon

George Morland
The Reckoning

George Morland
The Inside of a Stable

The Immaculate Conception
of the Virgin

Alfred Parsons
When Nature Painted
All Things Gay

Ralph Peacock
The Sisters

Syndics of the
Cloth Merchants' Guild

Guido Reni
"Ecce Homo"

Sir Joshua Reynolds
Portrait of Mrs. Richard Hoare
With Her Infant Son

Briton Riviere
The Temptation
in the Wilderness

Dante Gabriel
Day Dreams

John Singer Sargent
Miss Ellen Terry
as Lady Macbeth

Lady Stanley
(Dorothy Tennant)
His First Offence

Jan Steen
Grace Before Meat

Marcus Stone
On the Road from
Waterloo to Paris

Constant Troyon
Watering Cattle

H.S. Tuke
"All Hands to the Pumps"

King Philip IV. of Spain

S.E. Waller
Sweethearts and Wives

Thomas Webster
The Smile

Famous Paintings Volume 1
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Famous Paintings Volume 2
Art Gallery

Art Appreciation