Jan Havicksz SteenWoman at her Toilet

Woman at her Toilet

This is an intimate moment – a girl undressing before going to bed. She is just pulling off a stocking. The indentation left by her garter is visible just below her knee. Her raised skirt allows the viewer a peak up along her bare legs. The image’s explicit eroticism did not always find favour; until a hundred years ago, an underskirt was painted over her thighs.


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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.