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

V. & J. Posthumus, Amsterdam. Catalogus van een heerlyk cabinet [...] nagelaten door wylen den Heer en Mr. Francois van Hessel [...]. April 11, 1747 p. 3, lot 1.

Hoet, Gerard. Catalogus of naamlyst van schilderyen met derzelver pryzen. Zedert een langen reeks van Jaaren zoo in Holland als op andere Plaatzen in het openbaar vekogt(1976; repr., The Hague: P.G. van Baalen, 1752) vol. 1, p. 110 (under March 6, 1708 sale), lot 7.

Paillet, Paris. Catalogue des tableaux précieux, des plus grands maîtres des écoles flamande & hollande. February 21, 1781 p. 28, lot 74.

Smith, John. A Catalogue Raisonné of the Works of the Most Eminent Dutch, Flemish, and French Painters [...]. 9 vols. (London: Smith and Son, 1829-1842), vol. 4 (1833) p. 12, no. 36.

Westrheene, Tobias van. Jan Steen: étude sur l'art en Hollande (The Hague: Martinus Nijhoff, 1856) p. 158, no. 348, ill.

Hofstede de Groot, Cornelis. A Catalogue Raisonné of the Works of the Most Eminent Dutch Painters of the Seventeenth Century. Edward G. Hawke, ed. and trans. 8 vols. (London: Macmillan and Co., 1908-1927), vol. 2 (1908) p. 74, no. 247.

Havard, Henry. "Jan Steen." L'Art et les artistes XI (1910) p. 103, ill.

Collection of Pictures of the late Herr A. de Ridder, exh. cat. (Kleinberger Galleries, New York) pp. 17, 48, no. 31.

Bode, Wilhelm. The collection of pictures of the late Herr A. de Ridder: in his villa at Schönberg near Cronberg in the Taunus (Berlin: Julius Bard, 1913) p. 10, no. 31, fig. 31.

Galerie Georges Petit, Paris. Catalogue des tableaux anciens [...] composant la Galerie de feu M. A. de Ridder [...]. June 2, 1924 unpaginated, no. 68.

Jan Steen: tentoonstelling in het Stedelijk Museum "De Lakenhal" te Leiden, exh. cat. (Leiden: A.W. Sijthoff, 1926) p. 26, no. 61.

Bredius, Abraham. Jan Steen (Amsterdam: Scheltema & Holkema, 1927). p. 82, ill.

Schmidt-Degener, F., and H.E. van Gelder. Jan Steen. G.J. Renier, trans. (London: John Lane, 1927) p. 61, no. 25.

Gerson, Horst. De schoonheid van ons land: het tijdperk van Rembrandt en Vermeer. De Nederlandse schilderkunst (Amsterdam: Contact, 1952) p. 33, no. 88, ill.

Martin, W. Jan Steen. (Amsterdam: J.M. Meulenhoff, 1954) pp. 17, 81, fig 5.

Jan Steen: tentoonstelling georganiseerd door de Stichting Johan Maurits van Nassau, exh. cat. (The Hague: Mauritshuis, 1958) p. 61, no. 27, fig. 27.

Gerson, Horst, J.W. Goodison, and Denys Sutton. Fitzwilliam Museum Cambridge, Catalogue of Paintings. 3 vols. (Cambridge: Syndics of the Fitzwilliam Museum, 1960), vol. 1 (1960) p. 121.

De Schilder in zijn wereld van Jan Van Eyck tot Van Gogh en Ensor, exh. cat. (Delft: Stedelijk Museum 'het Prinsenhof, 1964) pp. 89-90, no. 105, fig. 64.

Robinson, Franklin W. Gabriel Metsu (1629-1667): A Study of His Place in Dutch Genre Painting of the Golden Age (New York: Abner Schram, 1974) pp. 48-49, 169, fig. 17.

Braun, Karel. Alle tot nu toe bekende schilderijen van Jan Steen (Rotterdam: Lekturama, 1980) unpaginated, no. 182.

Bordeaux, Jean-Luc. "Le Défi Getty." Connaissance des arts, no. 394 (December 1984) p. 44, ill.

"Acquisitions/1983." The J. Paul Getty Museum Journal 12 (1984) pp. 311-12, no. 11, ill.

Fredericksen, Burton B. "Recent Acquisitions of Paintings: The J. Paul Getty Museum." The Burlington Magazine 127, no. 985 (April 1985) p. 265, fig. 101.

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.

Miedema, Hessel. "Kunstschilders, gilde en academie: Over het probleem van de emancipatie van de kunstschilders in de Noordelijke Nederlanden van de 16de en 17eeuw." Oud Holland 101, no. 1 (1987) pp. 20-21, 29n56, ill.

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.

Heugten, Sjraar van. "Grazende modellen. Aspecten van het Nederlandse veestuk." In Meesterlijk Vee: Nederlandse veeschilders 1600-1900, exh. cat. C. Boschma et al., eds. (Dordrecht: Dordrechts Museum, with Waanders, 1988) pp. 27-28, fig. 24.

Boose, Lynda E., and Betty S. Flowers, eds. Daughters and Fathers (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1989) pp. 300, 428-29, ill.

Walsh, John. "Jan Steen's 'Drawing Lesson' and the Training of Artists." Source 8/9 (Summer/Fall 1989) pp. 80-86, ill.

Steinberg, Leo. "Steen's Female Gaze and Other Ironies." Artibus et Historiae 11, no. 22 (1990) pp. 107-28, ill.

Sutton, Peter C. "Recent Patterns of Public and Private Collecting of Dutch Art." In Great Dutch Paintings from America, exh. cat. Ben Broos, et al., eds. (The Hague: Mauritshuis, with Waanders, 1990) p. 107, fig. 2.

Gehren, Georg von. "Weiblicher Blick aufs Verbotene." Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung (2 October 1991) p. N3.

Grijzenhout, Frans, and Henk Th. van Veen, eds. De Gouden Eeuw in perspectief: het beeld van de Nederlandse zeventiende-eeuwse schilderkunst in later tijd (Nijmegen: Sun, 1992) fig. XXI.

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.

Walsh, Amy. "The Life of Paulus Potter." In Paulus Potter: Paintings, Drawings, and Etchings, exh. cat. Walsh, Amy, Edwin Buijsen, and Ben Broos (The Hague: Mauritshuis, 1994) p. 25, ill.

Döring, Thomas. "Belebte Skulpturen bei Michael Sweerts zur Rezeptionsgeschichte eines Vergessenen Pseudo-Antiken Ausdruckskopfes." Wallraf-Richartz-Jahrbuch 55 (1994) pp. 70-71, fig. 12.

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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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