Jan Steen (born around 1626 – died February 3, 1679) is a brilliant Dutch artist of the 17th century, an unsurpassed master of the genre of genre. Jan Steen’s paintings are filled with satirical images of his contemporaries, sparkling humor and good-natured irony. The painter also worked in portrait, landscape and historical genres, but it was his work on everyday subjects that brought him worldwide fame.
Jan Steen lived a difficult and not very long life, but he always had a cheerful disposition and did not lose heart in difficult situations. He was a very prolific artist and painted over 800 paintings, although only 350 of his works have survived to this day.
Biography of Jan Steen
Jan Steen was born in 1626 in the city of Leiden in the south of Holland into a wealthy family. His father was the owner of a local tavern, but he did business with varying degrees of success. Jan received his primary education at a Latin school and later expressed his desire to become an artist. Parents supported their son and sent him to study in Utrecht to the famous painter Nikolaus Knüpfer.
Already in 1648, young Jan, together with his friend Gabriel Metsu, founded the Guild of Artists of St. Luke in his native Leiden. But there were very few orders, so after six months Sten gladly accepted Jan van Goyen’s offer to become the assistant of this influential artist and moved to The Hague.
A year later, Jan Steen was married to van Goyen’s daughter Margriet and successfully worked with his father-in-law for the next five years. But in 1654, his father asked Jan to head the “De Slang” tavern in another city and the artist agreed without hesitation.
Stan and his family moved to Delft and made grandiose plans for the development of the brewing business, but this was not destined to happen. On October 12 of the same year, a catastrophe happened – the city’s warehouses of gunpowder exploded. More than 100 residents were killed, several thousand were injured, and most of the city was completely destroyed.
The next three years were very difficult for the family.
In the city affected by the explosion, interest in painting dropped dramatically, and there were very few visitors to the tavern. But it was during this period that the flowering of the artist’s creativity began. He found his calling – genre funny pictures and with pleasure he painted them one after another.
In 1660 Jan Steen and his family left Delft for good. He settled in the village of Warmond and devoted himself entirely to art. Gradually, the artist became widely known, but the financial situation of the family remained deplorable. The painter often had to sell his paintings for a pittance in order to support his wife and children.
In 1670 Margriet died and Steen remained a widower with six children in care. The artist decided to return to his native Leiden, where he was warmly received by members of the local guild and society. But 2 years later, a great misfortune happened in Holland – the country was attacked from all sides by the interventionists (France, England, the German principalities of Munster and Cologne). The art market in the Netherlands collapsed and Sten acquired a license to open a tavern to survive in such a difficult situation.
In 1673, Steen married a second time.
Soon, wife Maria gave her husband another child, and the members of the guild of St. Luke elected him president. But until the end of his days, the artist did not manage to improve the financial situation of the family. He died on February 3, 1679 and left great debts to his heirs, and many magnificent works to his descendants.