The Dissolute Household

Artist: Jan Steen (Dutch, Leiden 1626–1679 Leiden)

Date: ca. 1663–64

Medium: Oil on canvas

Dimensions: 42 1/2 x 35 1/2 in. (108 x 90.2 cm)

Classification: Paintings

Credit Line: The Jack and Belle Linsky Collection, 1982

Accession Number: 1982.60.31


Steen and members of his family modeled for this scene of domestic chaos, which is still called a "Jan Steen Household" in The Netherlands. The company acts out a variety of familiar sins, such as Sloth, Gluttony, Lust (papa and the maid), and other offences—a Bible is trampled, and a beggar is repelled at the door—all heedless of the open watch, suggesting temperance, and the basket hanging like Fate over their heads (the objects in it promise poverty, disease, bad luck, and justice). The only thing refined about the picture is Steen’s technique, especially in his wife’s costume.