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Jan Havicksz SteenThe Merry Family

The Merry Family

This boisterous family is making a lot of noise: the father sings at the top of his lungs while raising a glass; the mother and grandmother chime in; and the children are either blowing into a wind instrument or smoking a long pipe. The note hanging from the mantelpiece gives away the moral of the story: ‘As the old sing, so shall the young twitter.’ What will become of the children if their parents set the wrong example?

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Jan Steen
The wealth of motifs and humorous vignettes in Jan Steen’s paintings often overshadow his great artistic flair. Steen’s mastery lies both in his subtle colour combinations and in his rendering of different kinds of textures. The colour scheme of this painting is fairly drab and grey: only the clothing of the woman in the middle is rendered in delicate shades of violet and green.