This is one of Jan Steen’s earliest paintings. It can be dated to the period when he was living in Leiden or had just moved to The Hague (c.1649). In a landscape with a church in the background, four merry peasants dance in the round in front of an inn, to the accompaniment of a violin player standing on a wooden barrel. They are surrounded by other peasants exuberantly drinking, smoking and talking. A man lies sleeping with his mouth open at front left. Two dogs sniff each other in the foreground. At right, a man tries to pull a woman seated on a bench towards the group of dancing peasants, while another man keeps a firm hold on her. The yard in front of the inn is covered by a leafy pergola, a motif that occurs repeatedly in Steen’s oeuvre.
This and other earlier works betray the influence of Adriaen and Isack van Ostade, who mainly painted peasant scenes. Steen had also looked closely at prints of peasants and country fairs after designs by Pieter Bruegel the Elder. The underdrawing for the landscape in the background is drawn in curly strokes that recall the style of Steen’s father-in-law, Jan van Goyen (see Technical Notes)1, whose daughter Grietje became Steen’s wife in 1649.
Jan Steen (Leiden 1626 - 1679 Leiden)
Peasants Dancing at an Inn
Materiale e dettagli tecnici
40.2 x 57.5 cm
lower left: JSteen indistinct
Possibly Maria Beukelaar; her sale, The Hague, 19 April 1742 (Lugt 781), no. 125 (16 guilders and 50 cents); Nicolaas van Bremen, The Hague; his sale, The Hague, 3-4 April 1769 (Lugt 1749), no. 128 (35 guilders); J.A.A. de Lelie, Amsterdam; his sale, Amsterdam, 29 July 1845 (Lugt 17870), no. 20 (415 guilders); W. Gruyter, Amsterdam; his sale, Amsterdam, 24 October 1882 (Lugt 42268), no. 106 (15 guilders); Hermann Wirz, Cologne; his sale, Cologne, 20 May 1890 (Lugt 49148) (as by Pieter de Bloot; for 920 marks to Bredius); Abraham Bredius, The Hague, 1890-1946 (on long-term loan to the Mauritshuis, since 1890); bequest of Abraham Bredius, 1946
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