artist; “Merry Company” artist; “Skittle
Players” painter; Dutch painter Jan
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Leiden and its painters
Havickszoon Steen (c. 1626 – buried February 3, 1679) was a
Dutch genre painter of the 17th century (also known as the Dutch
Golden Age). Psychological insight, sense of humour and abundance
of colour are marks of his trade.
was born in Leiden, where his well-to-do, Catholic family had run
the tavern The Red Halbert for several generations. Like his even
more famous contemporary Rembrandt van Rijn (1606–1669) Jan
Steen attended the Latin school in Leiden. He received his
painterly education from Nicolaes Knupfer (1603–1660), a
German painter of historical and figurative scenes in Utrecht.
Influences of Knupfer can be found in Steen's use of composition
and colour. Another source of inspiration was Adriaen van Ostade
(1610–1685), painter of rural scenes, who lived in Haarlem.
Whether Steen actually studied with Ostade is not known.
Portrait as a Lutenist
1648 Jan Steen joined the painters' Guild of Saint Luke at
Leiden, but soon after became an assistant to the renowned
landscape painter Jan van Goyen (1596–1656) and moved into
his house on the Bierkade in The Hague. On Oct 3, 1649 he married
van Goyen's daughter Margriet, with whom he had eight children.
Steen worked with his father-in-law until 1654, when he moved to
Delft, where he ran brewery De Roscam (The Curry Comb) without
much success. He lived in Warmond from 1656 till 1660 and in
Haarlem from 1660 till 1670 in which period he was especially
productive. In 1670, after the death of his wife in 1669 and his
father in 1670, Steen moved back to Leiden, where he stayed the
rest of his life. In April 1673 he married again, with Maria van
Egmont, who gave him another child. In 1674 he became president
of the Sint Lucas Guild. He died in Leiden in 1679 and was
interred in a family grave in the Pieterskerk.
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