Jan Steen Biography
Dutch painter. He is best known for his genre scenes depicting busy interiors, often with a strongly moralizing theme and frequently illustrating Dutch sayings. These cheerful and disorderly scenes themselves gave rise to the Dutch expression 'a Jan Steen household'. His work, in which his goal seems to have been to combine narrative, instruction and entertainment, revives the moralizing tradition of earlier Dutch genre painters. Yet his inquisitive mind provoked him continuously to explore new styles and themes, an attitude probably stimulated by his frequent moves between Dutch cities. Steen was a prolific artist (although the quality of his work varies greatly), and, as well as his many genre pieces, he executed biblical and mythological subjects and a few portraits; he particularly excelled in the depiction of children. At the end of his life he produced paintings that foreshadow the Rococo idylls of 18th-century artists.