• Old Master & 19th Century Pain auction at Christies

    Sale 2282

    Old Master & 19th Century Paintings, Drawings, & Watercolors

    27 January 2010, New York, Rockefeller Plaza

  • Lot 22

    Jan Steen (Leiden 1626-1679)

    A Village Wedding

    Price Realised  


    Jan Steen (Leiden 1626-1679)
    A Village Wedding
    signed 'JSteen' (on the column, center)
    oil on canvas
    27 x 34½ in. (68.6 x 87.6 cm.)

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    This Village Wedding by the Dutch maestro of narrative genre scenes, Jan Steen, is revealed slowly through the device of a pulled back - or in this case, wrapped up - curtain. In the center of this spacious room, a fiddler stands on a table, playing his tune to the dancing crowd. In front of him, a man who has drunkenly fallen off his chair is ridiculed by a young boy with a drum and a seated mother, too immersed in their laughter to notice the dog stealing meat from the platter at center. A young maid and soldier are hidden in a doorway to the left, the soldier's fingers crossed behind his back in the hope that his advances will be well-received. At the bride's table, a figure in clerical robes drinks heartily amidst a raucous game of pass the roemer.

    Steen's condemnation of drunkenness is unmistakable, but he also plays his vignettes to humorous effect. His expressive figures caricaturing, in both gesture and appearance, contemporary popular culture, condemning the sins of drinking. He reinforces the transitory nature of drink-related pleasures, like adultery and lewdness, with vanitas motifs, such as the broken pitcher in the foreground. Steen's scenes were part of a proud tradition, dating to the Flemish artists David Teniers the Younger (1610-1690) and Pieter Bruegel the Elder (1525/30-1569), whose style is clearly emulated in the face of the bride, hidden next to the central column.

    Hofstede de Groot listed this work as signed and dated 1671. It may be the case that this dating is derived from his incorrect reading of the signature, 'JSTeen' as the artist's monogram and a date. However, the bright, soft colors and expansive interior filled with smaller figures place this work in the company of late works such as the Wedding Feast at Cana (Pasadena, Norton Simon Museum), which represented a final striking development, full of free, thinly applied brushstrokes and a new energy, in Steen's long career.


    D. Teixera, The Hague.
    Anonymous sale; de Vries, Brondgeest, Roos, The Hague, 23 July 1832, lot 71 (1455 florins to Engelberts).
    Thomas Hamlet.
    Anonymous sale; London, 29 July 1833, lot 73 (105 gns).
    Leopold George Christian Frederick, Prince of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha, later Leopold I, King of the Belgians (1790-1865) and by descent to
    Leopold Louis Philippe Marie Victorking of the Belgians (1835-1909).
    Veuve Franzisca van Clavé Bouhabern.
    Anonymous sale; Heberlé, Cologne, 4 June 1894, lot 304 (1900 marks to Lempertz).
    M.F. Kleinberger, Paris, 1909.
    with Jacques Goudstikker, Amsterdam, 1919.
    August Janssen, Brussels.
    P.W. Janssen, Amsterdam.
    Anonymous sale; Frederich Muller & Co., 29-30 November 1932, lot 306. Alfred Cohen, Amsterdam;
    Confiscated by the Generalkommisar zur besonderen Verwendung, Sonderreferat Kulturaustausch, The Hague for Hitler's 'Linz Museum' (no. 2197);
    Returned via the Munich Central Collecting Point (No. 4575) to the Stichting Nederlandsch Kunstbezit in 1946;
    Restituted to the Cohen family, November 1946.
    Johanna Cohen, Amsterdam and New York.
    Anonymous sale (Estate of Johanna Helena Cohen), Sotheby's, New York, 13 January 1978, lot 94 ($60,000).
    Anonymous sale; Christie's, Amsterdam, 21 May 1985, lot 164 (296,400 guilders).
    with Johnny van Haeften, London, 1985.
    Anonymous sale; Sotheby's, New York, 12 January 1995, lot 85.
    Private collection, USA.
    with David Koetser, Zurich, from whom purchased by the present collector.

    Pre-Lot Text



    J. Smith, Supplement to the Catalogue Raisonné..., London, 1842, p. 492, no. 50.
    T. van Westrheene Wzn., Jan Steen, Étude sur l'Art Hollande, 1856, p. 224, no. 191.
    C. Hofstede de Groot, A Catalogue Raisonné..., London, 1908,
    p. 131, no. 490, as 'signed and dated 1671'.
    W. Roberts, 'King of the Belgians - Collection of Old Masters', The Connoisseur, vol. XXIV, August 1909, pp. 204, 208.
    H. Harvard, 'Jan Steen', L'Art et les Artistes, vol. XI, June 1910, p. 106.
    O. Hirschmann, 'Die Sammlung August Janssen', Der Cicerone, vol. 12 1920, pp. 69-70, pl. 11.
    C. Veth, 'Pieter Brueghel en Jan Steen', Maandblad voor Beeldende Kunsten, 8, 1931, no. 11, p. 323.
    K. Braun, Meesters der Schilderkunst, Jan Steen, Rotterdam, 1980, p. 137, no. 343.


    Amsterdam, Jacques Goudstikker, November 1919, no. 121.
    Amsterdam, Jacques Goudstikker, 14 December 1919-4 January 1920, no. 55.
    Stockholm, Kungliga Akademien för de Fria Konsterna, 1920, no. 55; also Christiania (now Oslo), Konstförening, and Copenhagen, Statens Museum for Konst.
    New York, Anderson Galleries, Exhibition of the Collection Goudstikker, 10 March-7 April 1923, no. 110.
    Leiden, Stedelijk Museum de Lakenhal, Dreihundertjahfeier Jan Steen, 16 June-31 August 1926, no. 45.