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

Tavern Garden

c. 1660
Oil on canvas, 68 x 58 cm
Staatliche Museen, Berlin

Jan Steen was Europe's greatest Baroque chronicler of fresh festivity, recording how those celebrations of faith, folk, and family illumined an often harsh life for middle and lower classes alike. Tavern Garden shows Steen at his best - witty, adroit, compassionate, but never sentimental. The ironic, smiling figure holding a basket is probably the Dutch painter himself, a participant in the merriment. Also a tavern keeper or brewer, this great painter may have been the keenest Baroque analyst of the tragicomedy of human collectivity.