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Jan Steen: The Drawing Lesson

  • John Walsh

    Clear, solid, palpable, this is the world of the Dutch painters of the seventeenth century—a world in which the surfaces and scenes of everyday life are rendered with impeccable care and illuminated by clear, soft light. Through the countless reproductions of the works of painters like de Hooch and Vermeer, these scenes have become intimately familiar: servants at their kitchen chores; women reading, daydreaming, or playing music; risqué and often riotous scenes in bedrooms or inns. Jan Steen's The Drawing Lesson is one of the finest and most intriguing examples of the art of the Netherlands in its Golden Age. Through the interior Steen creates is familiar, the subject as celebration of the art of the painter is unusual and only subtly announced.

    In this fascinating exploration of The Drawing Lesson, the author offers an explanation of the individual parts and larger patterns of the work, allowing us to see how each prop and pose contribute to the larger theme―the art of painting and the education of the artist. He also recounts Steen's career and a history of the picture itself, presenting, in sum, not only an examination of a fine painting but a lesson in how to look at and read a complex work of art.

    John Walsh is director emeritus of the J. Paul Getty Museum. Previously, he was curator of paintings at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. He is the author of The J. Paul Getty Museum and Its Collections (Getty Publications, 1997) with Deborah Gribbon.

    "Serves as a model of how to think about subject-matter in Dutch seventeenth century genre painting."
    —Art Newspaper

    88 pages
    7 1/2 x 9 1/4 inches
    30 color and 35 duotone illustrations
    I color foldout
    ISBN 978-0-89236-392-6

    Getty Publications
    Imprint: J. Paul Getty Museum
    Series: Getty Museum Studies on Art