Jan Steen: Rhetoricians at a Window

Rhetoricians at a Window: Jan Steen

Rhetoricians at a Window is a Genre painting by Dutch Golden Age artist Jan Steen which was painted from 1662 to 1666.

The picture depicts a group of four people (and a shaded figure taking a large sip from a likely alcoholic drink in the background) sitting beside a window. It is either a residential house or a public house, and we can see one of them reading or singing, while the others listen while they enjoy themselves. We can see from the paper held by the singing man on the bottom left that it is “Lof Liet” or “Song of Praise)”. It has been suggested that this Genre painting may a be a portrait of friends or acquaintances of the Steen himself.

The jester in the red hat appears to be enticing interaction from passers-by, while the man on the front-right listens closely.

Master Genre artist Jan Steen painted several paintings of members of rhetoric groups – theatrical and literary societies – throughout his career. They were a common source of entertainment and culture in the Netherlands during the 15th and 16th centuries.

Jan Steen’s Rhetoricians at a Window can be found at the Philadelphia Museum of Art in Pennsylvania, United States.

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