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

"Oude Vrijer - Jonge Meid"

c. 1665
Oil on oak panel, 41 x 36 cm
Private collection

In this painting a comical figure is greeting a young woman in an interior. The comical elderly figure making the theatrical bow to the young woman who turns to observe him is dressed as the Commedia dell'Arte figure of Pantaleone. Above the elderly jester hangs an empty birdcage. Steen painted a similar birdcage in many other paintings, for example the Beanfeast, dated 1668 (Staatliche Museen, Kassel). The Kassel painting also shows the same sort of Commedia dell'Arte figure who, beside wearing the same Pantaleone costume, plays a rommelpot, to emphasize his role as a fool who is after the attention of the comely girl.

As in so many of his works, Jan Steen has here included a caricature of his own features in the face of the amused peasant who turns to observe the comic encounter behind him.