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as those of his children, were carried off; and, to put the a pirate, and he, being as poor as a church mouse, was the finishing stroke to his misfortunes, the canvas and panels, on man to rob a painter without much scruple, when occasion which he was employed in painting pictures for his creditors, prompted. The suspicions of Jan Steen were aroused against were also taken. The tavern-keeper, who was accustomed to the chemist, and when he came expressly to condole with him be awakened by the noise of the children, remained in bed ; on the loss of his clothes and his pictures, Steen, no doubt but finding that the house was silent longer than usual, incensed by so much hypocrisy, received Esculapius, knife in Holloa, you rogues,' cried he, 'get up at last and light the hand.-— Race of thieves !' cried he, pirate.! buccaneer ! fire.' The children replied by the denial of Adam, complain- thou shalt see if thou canst carry off the shell after having ing that they were naked and could not find their clothes. taken the yoke of the egg !' At this exclamation, the alarmed Steen stretched forth his hand to reach his garments, but, doctor immediately took flight, and although he was innocent,
finding that his whole wardrobe had vanished, he was obliged to send one of the little Adamites to the cook, Gommert Bans, who lent him some clothes till he could tell his misfortune to his nephew Rynsberg, who took the plundered Jan and his featherless chickens to a woollen draper's, where the father and his progeny issued like so many of those birds of the sun, baptized by Pliny by the name of Phænix. The most ludicrous part of the story is what happened to a doctor, who frequented Jan Steen's alehouse, and sometimes served him as a model. The brother of this doctor had the reputation of being
he left Jan Steen persuaded that the robbery had been committed by the very man v'ho had just expressed so much regret that it had taken place."
Among Jan Steen's compa nions, and, like him, a determined drinker, was the celebrated painter, Franz Mieris. Judging from his carefully-finished little pictures, and the elegance of his compositions, one would never have suspected that Mieris passed his life in drinking, and in listening to the humorous speeches of Jan Steen, who, by means of his superior intelli. gence, and the amusing sallies of his inexhaustible wit, exer. cised an irresistible influence over him. This painter of rich bronze; a guitar hangs from one of the panels ; and a beau. interiors and silk dresses yielded in spite of himself to the tiful landscape is enclosed in an ebony frame. The repast is ascendancy of Jan Steen, even following him into the midst of composed of delicious fruits, and some ready-opened oysters taverns, and there passing whole nights in a state of oblivion. which glisten temptingly, the sight of which “ makes one's Nevertheless, completely as he was ruled by his friend, Mieris mouth water." There are ripe grapes, fine peaches, whose had, in his turn, and perhaps without being conscious of it, downy skins rival the blush upon a maiden's cheek, and a decisive influence over the manners of Steen; by this, how- lemons, part of whose golden peel lies beside them. Such ever, we do not mean his manner of thinking, but his manner was the reciprocal influence which Mieris and Jan Steen of painting. This influence is often perceptible in the larger possessed over each other; and, in connexion with this works of the tavern philosopher. One often meets with a subject, we remember, that whilst standing before the pretty
“Dutch Repast," a "Game at Backgammon," in which the picture, which is called “The Parrot " in the Amsterdam careful execution and soft, tender touch remind one of Mieris ; Gallery, an amateur came up who, at first sight, took this Jan and the elaborate style is then in harmony with the importance Steen for a Mieris. In this picture the figures are elegantly of the subject, and the distinguished appearance of all the dressed and very good-looking. Three gentlemen, their personages in the picture. There is no coarse drinking, as in the swords at their sides and their short mantles thrown over the taverns of Adrian Brauwer. Each one plays his part naturally, back of the arm-chair, are playing at backgammon; a charmand sometimes even gracefully; not one ignoble accessory ing woman, negligently dressed in a silk petticoat, is feeding obtrudes upon the order of the house, and the details of the the parrot. Her arms are raised for this purpose, and, her furniture are all in accordance with the refinement of the back being turned towards the spectators, her face is only guests. For instance, on the mantel-shelf is seen a Cupid in
seen in profile ; while the partot, whose cage, in the shape of a lantern, is hung from the ceiling, is putting out his claw for peeps out,--for the dog licks the empty soup-pot, and the toythe tender morsel. A child is feeding a cat, and a matron ship and child's ball are made accessory to the action of the engaged in cooking some veal on a gridiron, for the gentlemen picture. Peasant life in Holland is nowhere so fully shown to eat between the games, completes the charming picture. as in the compositions of Jan Steen. While in the pictures of
“The Aged Invalid' (p. 12) is another of Steen's genre Terburg we have the ease and tranquillity of well-bred society, compositione. It is conceived in his happiest spirit, and the noise and riot, the humour and jovialty—the high spirits represents an incident common enough in high life in all and special license of middle and low life in Holland, is countries. A rich hypochondriac is servilely tended by various discovered in the paintings of Jan Steen. There is never any friends and nurses, who, while they feign great affection and difficulty in reading the story which he tells with his eloquent care for his person, are every one of them intent upon making pencil. In the “ Dancing Dog," no less than in the “ Grace & purse for themselves by favouring his whims and fancies. before Meat,” we have a simple incident simply expressed. Here, as in many others of Steen's paintings, the physician In the one case all is life, fun, and frolic; in the other, an air and family friends are introduced. The nurse-maid is warm- of tranquil satisfaction and calm prayerful sincerity sits upon ing the bed, while on the floor are scattered various tokens of all faces; in each the expression is suited to the subject, and sickness—bottles, caudle-pans, cooking utensils, and a cham- a perfect harmony pervades the picture. The whole economy ber candlestick, with which a cat is playing. All is real and of a Dutch family-their pleasures and their duties, may be life-like, and every figure and object seems to have its place discovered in these two pictures. and purpose; and the whole picture is carefully drawn. The It is asserted that Jan Steen was related to Metzu, who colours in the original, which were once bright and trans- was, like him, originally from the town of Leyden. It is parent, have, towever, yielded, says Kügler, to the finger of certain that the style of Gabriel Metzu may be recognised in Time.
some pictures of his compatriot; for example, in the “NatiBut Jan Steen, when he abandons himself to his own fancy, vity of St. John,” which was in the Braamcamp collection, in may be easily recognised by the sprightly mirth of his com- 1771, and was sold for 1,210 forins. It is equally certain position. It is almost impossible to find a picture of his in that Steen painted the portrait of Metzu, and that of his wife : which there is not a sly meaning. He translates popular these two portraits appeared in a sale which took place at proverbs with sufficient spirit to relieve their triteness; and, Paris, in 1774. But that there was the same kind of intimacy by the appearance of the figures, the appropriateness of their between Steen and Metzu, as existed between Steen and gestures, and the part that each one plays in the comedy of Mieris, is not likely, on account of the character and quiet life, according to the character suited to his age, trade, or habits of Gabriel Metzu. Houbraken docs not mention their condition, he gives these proverbs piquancy. Doctors have friendship; nevertheless, it is probable that this birgrapher often called forth the caustic wit of Jan Steen; besides, it was was personally acquainted with the amusing brewer, whose the custom with all the artists of the seventeenth century to jests he relates, and from whom he bought more than one turn them to ridicule. Whilst Molière paraded them on the picture. However, without drawing the elegant and sedate French stage, Jan Steen delighted in painting them, in all the painter from the rich Dutch boudoir to the tavern, Jan Steen quackery of their gravity, in all the severity of their costume, could charm him by his conversation ; for no one spoke better studied for effect.
of his art than he; and, without baving learnt its rules, he The “ Dancing Dog,” which we give at page 8, may be con- seemed to have guessed them by the inspiration of genius. stuerca a gem--a complete triumph of artistic arrangement
may confidently assert that the great principles, which he and varied colour. It consists of ten figures, with the dancing has so well observed in his small pictures, could not have dog in the front centre. Jan Steen's whole family are por- been derived either from the instruction of Kimpfer-who was, trayed in this composition. There is the painter himself with it is said, his first master- or from his good father-in-law Van his invariably good-natured smile and his violin in his hand- Goyen, who was, nevertheless, a very clever man. for he was a tolerable musician as well as a good artist-sitting How many intellectual harmonies, which have been overbetween his wife and mother. The latter offers him a glass of looked by most of the Dutch painters, has Jan Steen perfectly wine,-an offer he was seldom known to refuse,-and the understood! With him every one plays his part and retains former looks lovingly into his eyes, while she allows his friend his character throughout. Costume, bearing, physiognomy, to seize her by the hand and invite her to join in the dance. gesture-each heightens the force of expression, and contri. One of his sons plays the flute to the dog, another is dipping butes something to the unity of the figure. The doctor water from the vine-decorated water-tub, and a third, a fine preserves his professional importance; he is clothed in black plump little fellow, with a whistle in his hand, stands behind from head to foot, and is grave from foot to head. The tooth. in calm contemplation of the joyous scene. Just behind the drawer adds a cock's feather to the peaked hat of the doctor, jovial old lady stands a figure, whom we may suppose to be and gives a little more depth to the wrinkles of his forehead. Franż Mieris, holding a tankard ; and in the back centre are The jolly peasant is distinguished from the lively citizen. a couple of figures with smiling faces, whom the painter pro- The attitude of the betrothed is not exactly that of the young bably introduced to fill up the unseemly gap which the lover. The action of the notary is in character with his funcdisposition of his other figures would have left in the picture. tion and his habits; and, as to the drunkard, he betrays himThe owl on the wall looks wisely down, as becomes a bird of self in the smallest details of his dress, and in the slightest his staid and sclemn nature, while the parrot, released from leanings of his body. In short, Jan Steen could not have his cage, seems to listen to the music with quite a critical ear. called forth the apostrophe of Garrick, the celebrated comeTrees hang over the garden wall in the extreme distance, and dian, who, seeing an actor play the part of a drunken man a rich piece of drapery disposed in graceful folds, contrasts with much truth, by the indecision of his look, the disfigureadmirably with the sameness of the walls before which it is ment of his features, and the embarrassment of his broken talk, suspended, and gives an air of finish and luxurious refinement while the action of the rest of his body did not correspond to to the whole. The accessories are few and simple, and con- these expressions, said to him : “My friend, thy head is truly sist—as in most pictures of the Dutch and Flemish schools- drunk, but thy feet and legs are full of senste." of the utensils of the table, and the means of enjoyment- In a fit of ill-humour against the masters of the Dutch drinking cups, dishes, pipes, and so on. This picture is at school, M. Paillot de Montabert exclaims, “This good man in the Hague, where it is highly esteemed as a good exemplifica- black, what does he want here? What is he going to do? tion of the artist's peculiar humour. The painter's family, This is what one asks one's self in the presence of a Dutch grouped in various ways, has often formed the subject of his picture ; but before those of Jan Steen we do not feel the pictures.
same uncertainty. The figures are characteristic, he has Quite different in style and moral feeling is the elegant little carried to a very high degree of perfection the delicacy, life, picture called " Le Benedicite" (page 9). Here the senti. and precision of the character. However, but how many Jan ment is pure and holy; but even here the painter's comic vein Steens are there in this school?" With all the good qualities. indicated in the above criticism, Jan Steen did not make whistle." Wishing to illustrate this saying, and to charachis fortune ; indeed, he scarcely succeeded better in his career terise the pleasures of each age, Jan Steen painted the poras a painter, than as a brewer or tavern-keeper. His pictures, traits of all his family, in a picture which may be seen in the 80 much prized now, were very poorly paid for during his Museum of the IIague, and which is rendered still more lifetime. They were only to be found then, says Descamps, valuable by the artist's having represented himself, between · at wine merchants' houses. He, however, did not trouble
his two wives, Margaret Van Goyen and Mariette Herkulens. himself much about the prices of his pictures, and had These persons were both good-looking, the first especially, if neither the talent to value them nor the inclination to take the
we may rely upon the brush of their husband, who, however, trouble of doing so. On all occasions he showed a marked
was not a man likely to flatter either them or himself. Mariette contempt for money. It happened one day, that he receired
Herkulens sold ready-cooked calves' and sheep's heads and some gold as the price of a picture. Immediately, without feet in the market. Steen's union with her was not exactly a listening to his wife, who was unwilling to leave any large prudent marriage, and the poor painter saw his increased sum in his hands, he went to the tavern, spent part of the family sink into the deepest misery; but for this he appears to money in drink, and lost the rest in gaming. His wife, seeing have shown little concern. him return happy, and in good humour, asked him what he
The day of St. Nicholas is in Holland the children's fête, had done with his money., “I have it no longer,” said Steen, and it is known that on that day fathers and mothers are laughing, “and the best of the joke is, that the companions accustomed to fill the shoes of their little ones with all sorts of who have taken it from me think they have duped me, whilst playthings and sweetmeats, making them believe that St. they are dupes themselves. Of all the gold coins which you Nicholas came during the night to throw these bonbons down saw me with to-day, there is not one that is not light. Now, the chimney for them. Jan Steen has treated this subject in I leave you to imagine how they will look to-morrow, when several of his worke, and it is evident that, like a good father, they discover it!" Light! this word, so amusing in this he often celebrated the fête of St. Nicholas. With the excepparticular instance, Jan Steen might apply to life-to his own tion, perhaps, of Hogarth and Wilkie, among the modern at least. In fact, nothing weighed him down in an existence, artists, no painter-certainly no painter of the Dutch school passed in observing men, in laughing at their caprices, and has carried the expression of human sentiments, as they are depicting their carousals,
discovered in private and familiar life, to so high a degree of Were we to judge from his pictures, we might suppose that perfection as Jan Steen. What variety of physiognomy; how not a cloud of sadness had ever come to trouble the serenity much truth of character! Whilst from a window in the back. of his mind. It was not that he did not see the discouraging ground the grandmother, playing the part of the saint, throws side of things, but he did not give himself up to discourage- dainties into the fire-place, the children rush to pick up the ment; and, inaccessible himself to melancholy, it did not throw presents which the good seint sends them. They hurry forits shade upon his compositions. There exists a celebrated
ward, push against each other, upset the chairs, and tumble on picture of his, which is the exact representation of human life. the ground. A little girl holds out her apron, her eye expresIt is in the gallery of the Hague, and we should not be able to sive of hope and faith, and a boy, cap in hand, goes a begging abstain from giving a description of it here, had we not found
among his more fortunate rivals. A baby, with outstretched one, simple, striking, and brief, in the catalogue raisonné of
arms, seems to claim his share; and the servant, animating the this valuable gallery, arranged by M. Van Steengracht Van competitors with voice and gesture, seems to say,
“ You see Costkapelle. “The subject," says this connoisseur,
what it is to be good!” We may repeat what M. Burtin has to point out the different periods of existence. In the fore
justly said of Jan Steen, that not only can we perceive the ground some children are playing with a cat; beyond, a woman thoughts of each person in this picture, but we seem to hear is courted by a young man; near the hearth an old man is
what he says.* The most amusing and comical figure in this seated, holding a child on his knee; the old man and the child
composition is that of a boy of nine or ten years of age, who, are amusing themselves with a parrot. A servant is cooking carelessly leaning against the chimney-piece, smiles, with an some oysters; in the background several persons drink,
intelligent and superior air, at the innocence of his little smoke, and play. A picture, hung upon the wall behind,
brothers, and seems quite proud of knowing that St. Nicholas represents a gibbet, as if to point out the end reserved for
has nothing to do with the matter. Play of feature could scarcely those who give themselves up to excess in drinking and
be rendered with greater truth than in the works of Jan Steen, gamblingan opening made into the granary beyond, dis
and, except perhaps Chardin, we should scarcely find his covers a young man carelessly reclining and blowing soap
equal, in this respect, among the masters of the French school. bubbles, with a death's head at his side; an impressive
The Dutchman has thus secured for himself a lasting celebrity. allusion to the vanity and emptiness of life. A thick curtain
“ So long as there is expression in your pictures," wrote Pope at the top of the picture is suspended above these various
Ganganelli (Clement XIV.) to an artist friend of his,“
you personages, and seems to threaten, by its fall, to end this whole
may congratulate yourself upon your works. That constitutes scene of human action. There is nothing in painting more the essence, and renders many faults excusable, which one ingenious or more striking than the simple idea of this vast
would not pardon in an ordinary artist.” curtain, which immediately gives one to understand, that the Houbraken relates, that he long possessed and preserved in scene represented is the " Comedy of Life."
his house one of Steen's pictures, which was afterwards sold Jan Steen had six children by Margaret Van Gogen, who to the Duke of Wolfenbuttel. The subject of this picture was died before him ; but, as if not contented with these, he took
the signing of a marriage contract. The attitudes and gestures it into his head to contract a second marriage with a widow of all the figures are so natural and so expressive, that the named Mariette Herkulens, who had two children of her own.
spectator imagines himself to be present at the ceremony, This large family constantly furnished models to the painter ;
and even to take part in it. The two fathers-in-law, com. he delighted to represent them with disordered hair and dress, pletely bent upon asserting their respective claims, are exin all the sprightliness of their frolics, observing the variations plaining them with much earnestness to the notary, who, pen in of age, from the extreme simplicity of the little girl who plays
hand, listens with a grave and attentive air. The bridegroom, with a rattle or teases the cat, to the comical gaiety of the lad
transported with anger, throws his hat upon the ground, of fourteen, who already assumes the marners of a man. His
together with the wedding presents. He shrugs his shoulders, old parents also figured in his pictures whenever he wished to
raises his hands, and looks at his affianced bride, as if to give represent old age, so that, like a true philosopher, Jan Steen
her to understand that he takes no part in such vulgar calcuobserved the whole human family without leaving his own; and there was nothing, even to his spotted dog, which he did
* Traité théorique et pratique des Connaissances qui sont necesnot admit to the honours of painting, and consider worthy to
saires à tout amateur de tableaux, par François Xavier de Burtin, represent his whole race. The Dutch have a proverb, which, Brussels, 1808. M. de Burtin describes this “ Fête of St. Nicholas" when translated, runs thus :" As the old sing, the young as having formed part of his own collection
lations. She appears moved, and as a return of tenderness, husband, could not help laughing at this joke, and her casts her eyes, full of gratitude and love upon her future portrait, thus completed, appeared to her more charming than husband. “It must be confessed,” says Houbraken, “that this picture is admirable for expression.
Happy the painters who have excelled in expression, in Amongst the friends of Jan Steen was the Chevalier Karel character! They are certain of renown during their lives, de Moor, the celebrated painter of Leyden. In one of the and of fame afterwards. If the number of amateurs who apfrequent visits which he paid to his countryman, hearing that preciate the properties of touch, delicate impasto, purity and Mariette Steen had long teazed her husband to paint her felicity of tone-in short, all that constitutes the technical in portrait, and that Steen continually promised, but never kept art, is limited; on the other hand, almost every body of any
his word, Karel de Moor offered to pay her the compliment of enlightenment is able to understand the thoughts which an executing the long-desired picture. She joyfully accepted his artist has translated by his brush, and is solicitous at least to offer, and dressed herself in her smartest clothes for the occa- appear interested in them. We do not mean to say that in. sion. The picture finished, Mariette immediately carried it to genious turn of thought can compensate, in painting, for Jan Steen, who highly approved of it. “There is but one feebleness of execution ; but, when the execution is suffi. thing wanting,” said he, “which I will add." Then, taking ciently vigorous to please the eye, it is a great advantage to his palette and brushes, he painted, in a few strokes, a large the popularity of the artist to awaken in us sentiments and basket hanging on her arm, filled with sheep's heads and feet. ideas, the effectiveness of which is independent of the preju“You understand,” said Steen, “ that without this basket you dices of schools and of national and local customs. By work. would not be known.” The wife, as philosophical as her ing upon the human mind, which has always points of resem.