The effects of intemperance, Steen

The effects of intemperance, Steen
The effects of intemperance, Steen

There are many baroque authors who opt for chaos and disorder in their compositions, perhaps as a way of facing the more thoughtful, slow and orderly Renaissance painting; In this sense, movement reigns in baroque painting, the characters moving around the canvas occupying as much space as possible and transmitting authentic chaos to the viewer. But if we had to choose a single baroque painter as representative of that chaos,it would be Jan Steen without a doubt.


Steen (1626- 1679) and whose real name is Jan Havicksz Steen, was one of the most outstanding artists in the Dutch Golden Age. His family ran a tavern in Leiden, so the artist knew first-hand the hubbub of these places that he captured so many times on his canvases. He trained in the workshop of Nicolaes Knüpfer and, by the middle of the century, was already part of the painters' guild

The painting we are analyzing here dates from between 1663 and 1665 and is en titled The Effects of Intemperance; It is an oil on canvas in a horizontal format that measures about one hundred and six centimeters wide by seventy-six centimeters high. In it we can see how a mother loses control of her home when she falls asleep due to the effects of alcohol. The woman has fallen asleep resting her head on her own arm while with the other hand, she drops the lighter still lit and at riskof burning the dress.

On the floor we see the remains of the banquet while around him those who are supposed to be his children do all kinds of mischief: one tries to steal his purse in order to get some money easily, three others give After eating a meat pie for a poor cat, the maid invites the parrot to drink wine from a silver cup and in the background, on the right, we see how the lady's husband flirts with a girl with a generous neckline.

Steen's painting is a true chaos, set in a costumbrista scene, the artist introduces a moralizing teaching that should make the viewer reflect. According to experts, this canvas is based on a typical Dutch saying that would come to mean something like the occasion makes the thief.

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