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    Sale 7609

    Important Old Master & British Pictures Evening Sale

    8 July 2008, London, King Street

  • Lot 33

    Jan Steen (Leiden 1626-1679)

    An amorous couple in a landscape

    Price Realised  


    Jan Steen (Leiden 1626-1679)
    An amorous couple in a landscape
    signed 'JSteen.' ('JS' in monogram, lower right, on a rock)
    oil on canvas
    25¾ x 31½ in. (65.4 x 80 cm.)

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    This picture originally formed a pendant to the painting A Loving Couple (sold Sotheby's, London, 10 July 2003, lot 25), with which it was still united at the time of its sale from the collection of Herman Ten Kate in 1801. A third picture on this theme was in the same sale (lot 146; now Leiden, Stedelijk Museum de Lakenhal) and Braun has suggested that, along with a Marriage Contract (St. Petersburg, The Hermitage), Steen conceived the four pictures as a cohesive series, datable around 1664-68 (op. cit.).

    Steen's amorous couple are here shown reclining joyously in their pastoral setting. The mood is in contrast to the grappling couple that feature in the Leiden picture and offers something of a conclusion to the overt and rather tense courting going on in the Sotheby's work. The trepidation elicited by the couple in the pendant is here answered by a pervading sense of joyous intimacy. The couple gaze lovingly at each other and their legs entwine, while the man holds his flute suggestively over the woman's midrift. The symbolism of this gesture (the flute being a well known symbol of manhood), would not have been lost on Steen's audience. Similarly, the woman's abandonment of chastity is made clear by her release of the bird from her cage as she throws her left arm back. In this way Steen makes clear that the burgeoning yet unconsumated affair at the centre of this picture's pendant here reaches its happy conclusion.

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    Herman ten Kate; (+) sale, Van der Schley, Amsterdam, 10 June 1801, lot 147 (205 florins to Pruyssenaar).
    Anatol Demidoff, Prince of San Donato; sale, Florence, 15 March 1880, lot 10.
    Monsieur Pierre D'Halluin; Christie's, London, 29 June 1973, lot 90 (sold for £7,350).
    Anonymous sale; Christie's, London, 11 July 1980, lot 48 (sold for £18,000).

    Pre-Lot Text



    J. Smith, A Catalogue Raisonné, etc, IV, 1833, no. 69; IX (supplement), 1847, no. 98.
    T. van Westreheen, Jan Steen: Etudes sur l'Art en Holland, The Hague, 1856, no. 357.
    C. Hofstede de Groot, A Catalogue Raisonné, etc., I, London, 1908, p. 220, no. 815.
    K. Braun, Alle tot nu toe bekende schilderijen van Jan Steen, Rotterdam, 1980, p. 119, no. 238.