Girl eating oysters
*oil on panel
*20,5 x 14,5 cm
signed t.l.: IS
*circa 1658 - 1660

Girl Eating OystersJan Steen, circa 1658

Jan Steen (1625/26-1679) was a Dutch painter of everyday-life scenes. His work is colourful, humorous, and insightful. As a child, he would have seen plenty to inspire his interest in people, being born into a wealthy family of tavern-owners.

Following his training, he began producing lively and popular scenes of domestic life, but his career was punctuated by economic depressions and hardships that severely affected the art market. At these times he turned to his family’s trade, and opened a brewery and later a tavern.

He often used his family as models, and painted several candid self-portraits. Steen had connections with the theatre, and his paintings have an enjoyable theatricality, in fact sometimes being modelled by his actor friends and associates.


Jan Steen (1625/1626–1679) [Public domain or Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Wrap Up Your Painting

  • What clues did you pick up about the person, from the objects in the painting’s environment?
  • How did you think it would feel to wear the clothes this person is wearing?
  • What aromas did you think this person could detect in their environment?
  • What happened next in the scene?
  • Did you like the person or not? Why did you feel this way?
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