(b. 1626, Leiden, d. 1679, Leiden)

Doctor's Visit

Oil on panel, 49 x 42 cm
Wellington Museum, Apsley House, London

The melodramatic ailment of the patient is mocked as much as the pretentious demeanour of the doctor, who pontificates but may be missing the true problem. Steen made the point, a common motif of comedies, by giving the doctor an outmoded, perhaps theatrical costume, by letting the boy Cupid smile knowingly at the viewer, and by inserting a famous comic painting, Frans Hals's Jester Pickle-Herring at top right.. Contemporary jokes also ridiculed doctors for their inability to diagnose pregnancy, a condition here indicated by the mythic pregnancy test of a ribbon dipped in urine, smouldering in the brazier.