Jan Steen’s paintings, often filled with comic or erotic elements, are among the most vivid images created during the seventeenth century. He was a master of low-life genre painting, subjects drawn from everyday life that include peasants or others often engaging in misconduct. Steen had a habit of placing himself within his paintings, frequently as the most dissolute personality of the group. Here the features of the artist have been given to the lustful figure reaching for the woman. Although often seemingly lighthearted, Steen’s paintings might, however, include moral lessons. For example, here the prominently placed stoneware jug and long clay pipe on the table might be considered a warning that excessive drinking and smoking are equated with undignified behavior.
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- Titles Interior with Figures (Proper)
- Artist Jan Steen, Dutch, Leiden 1625/1626 - 1679 Leiden
- Medium oil on wood
- Dimensions 13 3/16 × 10 5/8 in. (33.5 × 27 cm) frame: 18 7/8 × 16 15/16 × 1 1/2 in. (47.9 × 43 × 3.8 cm)
- Credit Line Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Jelks H. Cabaniss, Jr., 1978.208
- Work Type painting
- Classification Paintings
- On View
- Inscription On back, lower left, in red paint: B.M.A. 78.208 On back, white label from dealer P. de Boer, inscribed: JAN H. STEEN / Interieur + fig. / ges. / pan. 33,5 x 27,5 cm [at top of label, inscription] 13 On back, white label with handwritten notation: 78.208 There are two stamps on the back, one lower left on the panel itself: illegible. The other right and below center on the remnants of paper once glued to the back: the only legible part is: "...LTEN"
- Provenance Duits Ltd, London (inv. no. 1447), sold to the following [see note 1]; Newhouse Galleries, New York, in July 1965. Piet. de Boer (exh. 1968) [see note 2]; Mr. and Mrs. Jelks H. Cabaniss, Jr.; gift to the Birmingham Museum of Art
1. GRI, Duits Ltd., Records, 1920-1978, Box 38 (Index cards of work sold, by artist, O-Z) includes a card for no. 1447, Jan Steen, Interior with a Man and Woman, a Man's Face Appearing a(t) a Window, Looking in, 13 1/4 x 10 3/4 in., panel. Typed annotation in red ink across right border: "SOLD TO NEWHOUSE GALLERIES July 1965. A photograph in Box 68, "Small black scrapbook, photos of work: S-Z", and another in GRI photo archive confirms that no. 1447 is the BMA painting. The number 1447 appears to be out of sequence and suggests an acquisition much earlier.
2. Typewritten line on mount of photograph in GRI Archive: "Exh. P. de Boer, Collection 1968." BACK: paper label with "Kunsthandel P. de Boer/ Rosengracht 512 Amsterdam/ Steen, Interior + Figures/ GES./ PAN. 33 1/2 x 27 1/2 cm." "13" is handwritten in the center top. This information was confirmed by Niels de Boer in an email dated March 8, 2017 (see object file); no further information exists as to where Piet de Boer may have purchased the painting. According to Niels de Boer, his great uncle Piet de Boer owned the painting privately and consigned it to the gallery, which sold it to the Cabanisses.