The Drawing Lesson

Object Details


The Drawing Lesson


Jan Steen (Dutch, 1626 - 1679)




about 1665


Oil on panel


49.2 x 41.2 cm (19 3/8 x 16 1/4 in.)

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In this allegory of the status of the artist and the nature of his profession, a male artist instructs two pupils: a young boy and a fashionably dressed young woman. A plaster cast of a sculpture of a nude male seems to be the object of the day's exercise in how to draw, but the studio is filled with many other props and materials.

On the table are pens, brushes, charcoal pencils, and a woodcut depicting the head of an old man. Several plaster casts hang from a shelf that supports a sculpture of an ox, the symbol of Saint Luke, the patron saint of painters. A plaster putto is suspended from the ceiling in front of a tapestry, which is draped to reveal an easel with a painting and a violin hung on the wall. In the foreground a stretched canvas leans on a chest heaped with a bound album and a carpet. Objects related to the traditional theme of vanitas (vanity), a frequent subject of Dutch still lifes, are piled in the lower right corner. These items--a laurel wreath, a skull, wine, a fur muff, a book, a lute, and a pipe--remind viewers of the brevity of life and fame.

- 1708

Private Collection [sold, Amsterdam, May 15, 1708, lot 7.]

- 1746

François van Hessel, died 1746 (possibly Utrecht province, The Netherlands), upon his death held in trust by the estate.

1746 - 1747

Estate of François van Hessel, died 1746 [sold, Van Hessel sale, Posthumus, Amsterdam, April 11, 1747, lot 1, to Willem Lormier for 255 florins.]

1747 - 1748

Willem Lormier, 1682 - 1758 (The Hague, The Netherlands), sold to Marc-René de Voyer de Paulmy d'Argenson, 1748.

1748 -

Marc-René de Voyer de Paulmy d'Argenson, marquis de Voyer, 1722 - 1782 (Paris, France)

- 1780

Louis-César de La Baume Le Blanc, duc de La Vallière, 1708 - 1780 (Paris, France), upon his death held in trust by the estate.

1780 - 1781

Estate of Louis-César de La Baume Le Blanc, duc de La Vallière, 1708 - 1780 [sold, La Vallière sale, Paillet, Paris, February 21, 1781, lot 74, to Hypolite Delaroche for 875 francs.]


Hypolite Delaroche, about 1761 - 1839 (Paris, France)

1781 -

L.C. Desmarets (Paris, France)

by 1897

Martin H. Colnaghi, 1821 - 1908 (London, England)

by 1901

Forbes & Paterson (London, England)

by 1907

Dowdeswell & Dowdeswell, Ltd. (London, England)

by 1910

Kleinberger Galleries (Paris, France)

by 1913 - 1924

Mrs. August de Ridder (Schönberg bei Cronberg, Germany; Frankfurt-am-Main, Germany) [sold, De Ridder sale, Georges Petit, Paris, June 2, 1924, lot 68.]

1924 -

Kleinberger Galleries (Paris, France)

by 1926 - 1983

A. Reimann (Stensbygaard, Stensved, Denmark), sold to Edward Speelman, Ltd., 1983.


Edward Speelman, Ltd. (London, England), sold to the J. Paul Getty Museum, 1983.

A Loan Exhibition of Pictures by Jan Steen (May 1 to June 1, 1909) (Cat. 20)
  • Dowdeswell & Dowdeswell, Ltd., (London), May 1 to June 1, 1909
Collection of Pictures of the late Herr A. de Ridder (November 24 to December 15, 1913) (Cat. 31)
  • Kleinberger Galleries, (Paris), November 24 to December 15, 1913
Jan Steen (June 16 to August 31, 1926) (Cat. 61)
  • Stedelijk Museum De Lakenhal, (Leiden), June 16 to August 31, 1926
Jan Steen (December 20, 1958 to February 15, 1959) (Cat. 27)
  • Mauritshuis, (The Hague), December 20, 1958 to February 15, 1959
De schilder in zijn wereld. Van Jan van Eyck tot Van Gogh en Ensor (February 6, 1964 to January 24, 1965) (Cat. 105)
  • Stedelijk Museum Het Prinsenhof, (Delft), December 19, 1964 to January 24, 1965
  • Koninklijk Museum voor Schone Kunsten Antwerpen, (Antwerp), February 6 to March 14, 1965
Jan Steen: Painter and Storyteller (April 28, 1996 to January 12, 1997) (Cat. 27)
  • National Gallery of Art (Washington, D.C.), April 28 to August 18, 1996
  • Rijksmuseum, (Amsterdam), September 22, 1996 to January 12, 1997
Johannes Vermeer (February 18 to May 18, 2003) (Cat. 31)
  • Museo del Prado, (Madrid), February 18 to May 18, 2003
Johannes Vermeer: Woman in Blue Reading a Letter (February 16 to March 31, 2013) (Cat. 31)
  • The J. Paul Getty Museum at the Getty Center, (Los Angeles), February 15 to March 31, 2013

Sutton, Peter C. A Guide to Dutch Art in America (Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans, 1986), p. 143, and fig. 210.

Hoving, Thomas. "Money and Masterpieces." Connoisseur 216, no. 899 (December 1986), p. 98.

Reinewald, Chris. "Musea en Galeries in Amerika. Het Getty Museum: Een Romeinse villa aan de Pacific Coast." Tableau 9, no. 4 (February 1987), pp. 65, 67.

Fredericksen, Burton B. Masterpieces of Painting in the J. Paul Getty Museum. Rev. ed. (Malibu: J. Paul Getty Museum, 1988), unpaginated, no. 27, ill.

Hall, Nicholas H. J., ed. Colnaghi in America: A Survey to Commemorate the First Decade of Colnaghi New York (New York: Colnaghi, 1992), p. 130.

Carr, Dawson W., and Mark Leonard. Looking at Paintings: A Guide to Technical Terms (Malibu: J. Paul Getty Museum, with British Museum Press, 1992), p. 51, ill.

Fredericksen, Burton B., et al. Masterpieces of Painting in the J. Paul Getty Museum. 3rd ed. (Malibu: J. Paul Getty Museum, 1995), unpaginated, no. 28, ill., entry by Burton B. Fredericksen.

Krahn, Volker, ed. Von allen Seiten schön: Bronzen der Renaissance und des Barock: Wilhelm von Bode zum 150. Geburtstag, exh. cat. (Berlin: Staatliche Museen zu Berlin-Preussischer Kulturbesitz, with Edition Braus, 1995), p. 93, fig. 3.

Jaffé, David. Summary Catalogue of European Paintings in the J. Paul Getty Museum (Los Angeles: J. Paul Getty Museum, 1997), p. 122, ill.

Korthals Altes, Everhard. "The Eighteenth-Century Gentleman Dealer Willem Lormier and the International Dispersal of Seventeenth-Century Dutch Paintings." Simiolus 28, no. 4 (2000-2001), pp. 273-74, 302, no. 18, fig. 23.

The J. Paul Getty Museum Handbook of the Collections. 6th ed. (Los Angeles: J. Paul Getty Museum, 2001), p. 123, ill.

Stokstad, Marilyn, and Michael W. Cothren. Art History. 5th ed. (Boston: Person, 2012), p. 12, fig. Intro-16.

Education Resources

Education Resource




Expressing Emotions through Art Lesson 3-Everybody Works Together

In this lesson students use space to create a three-dimensional tableau that communicates the concept of working together.

Visual Arts


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    Audio: The Drawing Lesson