#FridayPainting: Jan Steen “As the Old Sing, So Pipe the Young”

As the Old Sing, So Pipe the Young” is a scene of pure joy. Laughter, singing, eating and the feeling of belonging welcomes me to join in the merriment. The connection between young and old remind me of a family sitting down to a Thanksgiving meal. But if I look closer, there are subtle meanings held within the painting.

Jan Steen “As the Old Sing, So Pipe the Young” (Public Domain)

Jan Havickszoon Steen (1626- 1679) was a Dutch Golden Age painter and one of the leading genre painters of the 17th century. He captured ordinary people people in scenes of daily life doing common tasks. In so doing, he created extraordinary moments. He was known for revealing the nuances of facial expression, especially in children.

Jan Steen “As the Old Sing, So Pipe the Young” (Public Domain)

Jan Steen loved to paint, which was demonstrated by the 800 paintings that he produced over his lifetime. Fortunately, approximately 350 of his paintings still exist in museums and galleries around the world.

Many of Jan Steen’s paintings were set within inns which was influenced by childhood memories. He was the son of a brewer. When the art market collapsed in 1672, called the Year of Disaster (that is another story for another time), he opened a tavern.

Published by Rebecca Budd

Blogger, Visual Storyteller, Podcaster, Traveler and Life-long Learner

11 thoughts on “#FridayPainting: Jan Steen “As the Old Sing, So Pipe the Young”

  1. It’s so wonderful that not all artists painted of the rich, for the rich.
    Or, as in many cases religious scenes, dictated by the times. Religious paintings, again for the rich… the Catholic Church was and still is dripping in gold.
    Still life, and nature were painted by many, but don’t give a glimpse into common life.
    In a time of no cameras, it’s a documentary gift from the past to have scenes like this.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. A very good point, Resa: “In a time of no cameras, it’s a documentary gift from the past to have scenes like this.” I believe that Jan Steen painted daily life because he loved people. He turned ordinary scenes into extraordinary moments. I looked into his reasons for adding himself into the scenes. Was he vain? It seems that it was quite the opposite – that he showed no tendency to vanity. I have read that he meant to warn the viewer rather than invite him to his behavior. Many thanks for your insightful comments!

      Liked by 1 person

    1. The feeling that I had when I was reading Jan Steen’s biography – he loved people. I understand that he made a meager living from his art, but that he is considered the humorist amount Dutch painters. Coming from an affluent family (his father was a successful brewer) Steen was not one to stay put; he lived in The Hague; Haarlem; Leyden, where he ran a tavern; and Delft, where he leased a brewery. While he didn’t make the huge profit from his paintings, he enjoyed success as a brewer. He married Jan van Goyen’s (an extremely prolific Dutch landscape painter) daughter. When I learn about an artist, I find more meaning in his/her artwork. Thank you for stopping by and for your comments!!

      Liked by 1 person

    1. I share your amazement, Dave. 800 paintings in his lifetime, while he continued to find employment as a brewer. When I read a few short “Jan Steen” bios, I came away with the feeling the he was an outlier among outliers. Best known for his humorous, warm-hearted and animated scenes, in Holland he ranks next to Rembrandt, Vermeer, and Hals in popularity. One bio noted that most of his paintings had a moral beneath the wit, as you see in this painting. I laughed out loud when I read: “… A ‘Jan Steen household’ has become an epithet for an untidy house.” I love looking behind a painting to find the back story. By the way, I spent the day with Frances yesterday and she wants to send her best to Misty (and you and your family)!!!

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for your visit and comments, Marina. When I found out that Jan Steen had placed himself in this painting, I researched whether he included himself in other paintings. He did!!! He positioned himself in different roles. While there is comedy in his paintings, I find that there was a moral undertone as if to warn. For example, in “The way you hear it” he offers a pipe to a young boy, while in “Merry Company on a Terrace”he is the inebriated innkeeper, and in “Doctor’s Visit”, he plays the comical role of the fool. But he also painted religious scenes such as “Samson and Delilah” and “Wedding Feast at Cana.” In my response to Dave, I said – it seems that he was an outlier among outliers! Many hugs coming your way!

      Liked by 1 person

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