Dutch School. A most excellent and prolific painter of genre.
LONDON, NATIONAL GALLERY
A TERRACE To the right is a lady in yellow sitting with her arm on the parapet of the paved terrace, behind which to the right is a man playing a lute. In the Centre is a man seated, watching them, with a glass in his left hand.
Purchased from the Adrian Hope Collection in 1894.
A MENAGERIE A little girl in a long white frock with a large white hat beside her is sitting on the steps of a terrace feeding a lamb out of a bowl. This terrace cuts right across the picture, its two steps bordering closely on a foreground of water. It is backed by a stone wall in which the only opening is a round headed doorway in the centre, giving on to the town. To the right an elderly man-servant, advancing with a basket of eggs over his arm and a jug in his left hand, watches the little lady with a kindly expression, and on the left another in ragged clothes, with a basket under one arm and a hen under the other, pauses on the terrace with no less interest. All kinds of fowls are crowded in the doorway; a peacock is perched on a dead tree on the right, and some ducks are distributed in the foreground.
“A picture remarkable for transparency of pure sunlight and for tenderness in feeling.” (Waagen.)
THE INN A curtain is looped up, disclosing a long room (seen from one of its ends) paved with large squares of black and white, in which are as many as twenty people in scattered groups, chiefly occupied in the consumption of oysters. From the varied character of the figures this picture has (most ineptly) been called ” A Representation of Human Life “; as a representation of actual life, without any symbolism, it is certainly a chef d’oeuvre. The light comes from behind us, the back of the room being further lighted by a window in the wall on the left. In the foreground the principal figures are an elderly woman seated between a little girl standing beside a chair (to the left), and an old man sitting beside her offering her an oyster; on the right two men and a woman sitting behind a dinner-table, in front of which is a boy standing with his back to us; and on the left a kneeling servant putting oysters on a tray. Against the back wall is a table at which some men are smoking.
THE INVALID One of the simplest but finest of Steen’s pictures, in which “he shows a delicate perception of light and colour and a fine sense of design that rank him with the best little Dutch masters” (National Gallery Catalogue). The invalid, a young wife, is seated nearly facing us in a wooden armchair with her head resting on a pillow on the corner of a small table at her left. She is simply dressed in a short cloak bordered with white fur and a silk skirt, with a white kerchief tied round her head. She extends her right arm across towards the doctor, who stands in front of the table half turned to left, with his right hand on her pulse and his left uplifted with forefinger extended as though counting the beats as he watches her face. He is simply dressed in black doublet and breeches, low shoes, and flat black cap with a cloak over his left shoulder. The room is bare of other furniture except the curtained bed and a clock on the wall, and the boarded floor is uncarpeted.
THE QUARREL On either side of a rough wooden table outside the back door of a tavern are, on the right, a.big rough-looking man sitting on a stool and holding up a knife with his right arm extended; and on the left a young gallant standing between the hostess, who clutches him from the front, and her little daughter-with her back to us-who runs to help her mother as he tries to draw his sword. Behind the table sits an elderly man, who seems to be trying to still the quarrel. On the extreme left is a large spaniel barking, and behind a couple of peasants on a bench against the tavern wall. On the extreme right behind the first-mentioned figure two young peasants stand laughing. On the ground in front of the table is a large backgammon board, some cards, and a jug overturned.
A VILLAGE WEDDING A cottage room, with branch candlesticks hanging from the ceiling, filled with guests. The bridal pair are being conducted to their chamber up two steps; the elderly and ill-favoured bridegroom grasps the hesitating bride by both arms; he pulls her on; a boy pushes her from the other side, carrying a warming-pan and looking at us archly. At the chamber door several people are waiting, including a stout old woman holding a candle. Near a window on the left a table is laid, at which are seated an old woman and a couple of others before a large ham. Three children look in through the window. In front of the table is a young mother suckling her child. Said to have been sent by the Archduke Leopold Wilhelm from Brussels to the Court of Vienna in 1651.