Web Content Viewer (JSR 286)

Actions
Loading...
  • Marriage Contract

    Artist:
    Steen, Jan. 1625 or 1626
    Technique:
    oil
    Dimensions:
    65x83 cm

Steen, Jan. 1625 or 1626

Marriage Contract

Holland, Circa 1668

In the edifying painting entitled 'The Marriage Contract' from the Hermitage collection, Jan Steen depicts with great inventiveness and wit a scene of a belated betrothal caused by the fault of the hapless young man humbly begging pardon on his knees and the young peasant girl, whose round belly is clear evidence of their fall from grace. In the list of works that Peter the Great’s agent Yury Kologrivov (1685/90–1754) bought in Haarlem in 1717, the painting is mentioned along with the price paid for it: 'A Pregnant Girl, painted by Jan van Steen. 63 yefimoks [thalers].' The broken eggs included in the composition are a traditional symbol for the loss of female chastity. The yoke, which is emphasized in the foreground is a metaphor for the bonds of matrimony. The picture in a black frame on the wall probably depicts the biblical Fall and is thus also connected with the general moralizing message of the scene. Scholars have suggested that the Hermitage picture belongs to a series of four works of similar size by Steen on the theme of rural love. Three of the works are presently known. Karel Braun, the author of a catalogue raisonné of Steen’s works, suggests that The Marriage Contract was a companion piece to Merry Couple in the Museum De Lakenhal in Leiden. The humorous nature of the scene, poking fun at country ways, made The Marriage Contract well-known among Steen’s contemporaries. The painting served as the prototype for an engraving by Richard Brakenburgh (1650–1702), a pupil of Steen, that is known as 'The Suddenly Discovered Pregnancy.'

Title:

Marriage Contract

Place:

Date:

Material:

Technique:

oil

Dimensions:

65x83 cm

Acquisition date:

Entered the Hermitage in 1921; transferred from the Grand Palace at Peterhof

Inventory Number:

ГЭ-795

Category:

Collection:

User collections including this work of art: