Art Gallery

Great Art @ Rijksmuseum


The Rijksmuseum (English: Imperial Museum) is a Dutch national museum dedicated to arts and history in Amsterdam.

Jan Steen

Birth: 1626 (Dutch Republic)

Death: 1679-02-03

Jan Havickszoon Steen (c. 1626 – buried 3 February 1679) was a Dutch genre painter of the 17th century (also known as the Dutch Golden Age). His works are known for their psychological insight, sense of humour and abundance of colour.


Rijksmuseum data retrieved using SPARQL combined with DBpedia data retrieved using dereferencing

This example uses external data on the same subject (Dutch painter Jan Steen) from multiple sources using different methods. The description of Jan Steen, including his portrait, is retrieved from DBpedia by dereferencing the DBpedia IRI for Jan Steen [1]. The images of his painting are retrieved using SPARQL from the Rijksmuseum collection endpoint [2].

Children Teaching a Cat to Dance, Known as ‘The Dancing Lesson’ (1660 - 1679)

These children are up to mischief: they are teaching a cat to dance to the music of a shawm, a 17th-century wind instrument. While they are clearly enjoying them-selves, the cat screeches in protest, joined by a barking dog. The old man at the window angrily rebukes the children: should they not be learning something rather than giving dancing lessons to a cat?

Interior with a Woman Feeding a Parrot, Known as ‘The Parrot Cage’ (c.1660 - c.1670)

The wealth of motifs and humorous vignettes in Jan Steen’s paintings often overshadow his great artistic flair. Steen’s mastery lies both in his subtle colour combinations and in his rendering of different kinds of textures. The colour scheme of this painting is fairly drab and grey: only the clothing of the woman in the middle is rendered in delicate shades of violet and green.

The Sick Woman (c.1663 - c.1666)

Faint from fever, the young woman rests her head on a pillow. Is she perhaps lovesick? Is she pregnant? To find out, a quack would put a strip of his patient’s clothing in a brazier to smoulder – the scent would disclose her secret. Jan Steen here presents such a charlatan making a diagnosis. His old-fashioned attire characterizes him as a comic character.

Adolf and Catharina Croeser, Known as ‘The Burgomaster of Delft and his Daughter’ (1655)

Legs wide apart and his right arm akimbo, Croeser sits on the stoop of his house on the Oude Delft canal in Delft. His thirteen-year-old daughter Catharina looks straight out at us. Jan Steen included a narrative element in this portrait: a poor woman and child beg for alms from the wealthy grain merchant. In 1657, just two years after this portrait was made, Croeser stood surety for Steen, who was seriously in debt.

The Merry Family (1668)

This boisterous family is making a lot of noise: the father sings at the top of his lungs while raising a glass; the mother and grandmother chime in; and the children are either blowing into a wind instrument or smoking a long pipe. The note hanging from the mantelpiece gives away the moral of the story: ‘As the old sing, so shall the young twitter.’ What will become of the children if their parents set the wrong example?

Woman at her Toilet (1655 - 1660)

This is an intimate moment – a girl undressing before going to bed. She is just pulling off a stocking. The indentation left by her garter is visible just below her knee. Her raised skirt allows the viewer a peak up along her bare legs. The image’s explicit eroticism did not always find favour; until a hundred years ago, an underskirt was painted over her thighs.

The Drunken Couple (c.1655 - c.1665)

A man and woman are so drunk that they are unaware they are being robbed. Their foolishness is underscored by the print on the partition. It depicts an owl, considered a stupid creature in the 17th century. After all, it could not see by day, not even with a candle or eyeglasses. The drunken couple is thus just as blind as the owl, a message that survives in the English idiom ‘blind as a bat’.

Self-portrait (1670)

A distinguished citizen dressed in decorous black is seated before a red curtain and tassel. Jan Steen, known primarily for his humorous scenes with simple folk, portrayed himself here as utterly self-assured. He also regularly included himself in other paintings, but then usually in a comic role.

The Feast of St Nicholas (1665 - 1668)

The feast of St Nicholas takes place in December. In the Netherlands, it has been celebrated in the same way for centuries. Good children receive gifts from the saint. The little girl in the foreground, for instance, has a bucket full of treats. Naughty children, like the wailing boy at the left, get only a switch (a bundle of twigs) in their shoe. Jan Steen was a born storyteller. He succeeded in incorporating all of the elements of the popular feast in this picture.

The Baker Arent Oostwaard and his Wife, Catharina Keizerswaard (1658)

A baker and his wife proudly show off their freshly baked goods. An old inscription on the back of the painting gives the couple’s name. The boy is also mentioned; he is the painter’s son. Jan Steen combined several genres in a single painting. It is simultaneously a portrait, a depiction of a profession, and a still life of bread.