The Life of Jan Steen
Little is known about Jan Steen’s life. He was trained by Nicolaus Knüpfer and inspired by Adriaen van Ostade. In 1649, Jan Steen moved in with painter Jan van Goyen in The Hague. He married van Goyen’s daughter Margriet and had eight children. A few years after Margriet died in 1669, he married Maria van Egmont, who gave him two more children. Jan Steen lived in Leiden, The Hague, Haarlem and Delft. He ran a brewery, a tavern and was dean of the Guild of Saint Luke, a city guild for painters in Leiden.
The Work of Jan Steen
Jan Steen would paint lively and chaotic scenes from daily life with masterly technique and ingenious compositions. At first glance, the paintings seem to have been made just to be amusing, but if you look closer you’ll find subtle hints that are meant to warn the viewer for the kind of behavior depicted.
Jan Steen produced at least 400 paintings in all sorts of themes: historical, mythological, natural and religious scenes, portraits and still lives. However, he is most famous for his scenes from daily life. A Dutch expression even refers to his work. “It’s a Jan Steen household”, meaning that it’s a chaotic and messy household.