• Jan Havicksz. Steen



    Title
    Interior of an Inn with an Old Man, the Landlady and Two Men Playing Backgammon, known as 'Two Kind



    Year
    c. 1636-79


    A group of men are having fun in a tavern. A young man is drinking beer, draining his tankard, while a couple of others are playing backgammon. Like cards, this popular game was associated with idleness and folly. On the left, another game is being played: an old man tries to pull a young woman (the landlady) onto his lap. The woman resists him half-heartedly. Her red stockings, however, suggest that she would not have been all that worried about her morals: red stockings often indicated the woman was a prostitute. Taverns were sometimes disguised brothels and this place certainly has a rather dubious air. The lute on the wall, the dog, the pipe on the firepan and the mussel and eggshells on the ground suggest debauchery, lust and idleness.


    Jan Havicksz. Steen (1626-1679)

    Jan Havicksz. Steen was born in Leiden in 1626, the son of a brewer. Educated at a Latin school he enrolled in 1646 at Leiden university, although he was never to actually graduate. Little is known for certain about Steen's apprenticeship as a painter. Early eighteenth-century biographers of artists record that he was taught by various painters: Nicolaus Knupfer, Adriaen van Ostade as well as landscape painter Jan van Goyen, whose daughter he married in 1649. One year earlier he had registered as a master painter with the Leiden guild of artists, indicating that his apprenticeship was now over.


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