The J. Paul Getty Museum

The Drawing Lesson

Object Details


The Drawing Lesson


Jan Steen (Dutch, 1626 - 1679)




about 1665


Oil on panel

Object Number:



49.2 × 41.2 cm (19 3/8 × 16 1/4 in.)

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Object Description

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.]
Source: Hoet, Gerard. Catalogue of naamlyst van schilderyen [...] (The Hague: P.G. van Baalen, 1752), p. 308

- 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.]
Source: Korthals Altes, Everhard. "The Eighteenth-Century Gentleman Dealer Willem Lormier [...]." Simiolus 28, no. 4 (2000-2001), p. 274

1747 - 1748

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

- 1780

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

1781 -

Hypolite Delaroche, about 1761 - 1839 (Paris, France)
Source: annotated RKD copy of La Vallière sale catalog, February 21, 1781.

1784 -

Desmarest, French, (Paris, France)
Source: annotated RKD copy of supplement to sale catalog, April 14, 1784.

by 1897

Martin H. Colnaghi, 1821 - 1908 (London, England)
Source: Ripps, Michael J. "Bond Street Picture Dealers [...]." Ph.D. diss (University of Oxford, 2010), p. 40

by 1901

Forbes & Paterson (London, England)

by 1907
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)
Source: Galerie Georges Petit, Paris. Catalogue des tableaux anciens [...] de Ridder. June 2, 1924 [GRI, annotated catalogue]

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)
  • 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)
  • Kleinberger Galleries (Paris), November 24 to December 15, 1913
Jan Steen (June 16 to August 31, 1926)
  • Stedelijk Museum De Lakenhal (Leiden), June 16 to August 31, 1926
Jan Steen (December 20, 1958 to February 15, 1959)
  • Mauritshuis (The Hague), December 20, 1958 to February 15, 1959
De schilder in zijn wereld: Van Jan van Eyck tot Van Gogh en Ensor (December 19, 1964 to March 14, 1965)
  • 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)
  • 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)
  • Museo del Prado (Madrid), February 18 to May 18, 2003
Johannes Vermeer: Woman in Blue Reading a Letter (February 16 to March 31, 2013)
  • The J. Paul Getty Museum at the Getty Center (Los Angeles), February 16 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 (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; qui composoient le Cabinet de Monsieur le Duc de la Valliere. February 21, 1781, p. 28, lot 74.

Lebrun, Paris. Supplément au catalogue et feuille de distribution de tableaux [...]. April 14, 1784, p. 4, lot 163.

Smith, John. A Catalogue Raisonné of the Works of the Most Eminent Dutch, Flemish, and French Painters [...]. 9 vols. (London: Smith and Son, 1829-42), 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.

Catalogue of a Loan Exhibition of Pictures by Jan Steen, exh. cat. (London: Dowdeswell & Dowdeswell, 1909), p. 15, no. 20.

Hofstede de Groot, Cornelis. A Catalogue Raisonné of the Works of the Most Eminent Dutch Painters of the Seventeenth Century, Based on the Works of John Smith. Edward G. Hawke, ed. and trans. (London: Macmillan and Co., 1908-27), vol. 2 (1909), p. 74, no. 247.

Havard, Henry. "Jan Steen." L'Art et les artistes 11 (1910), p. 103, ill.

Collection of Pictures of the Late Herr A. de Ridder, exh. cat. (New York: Kleinberger Galleries, 1913), 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), no. 82, pl. 82.

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

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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. Vol. 1, Dutch and Flemish (Cambridge: Syndics of the Fitzwilliam Museum, 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.

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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.

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Education Resources
Education Resources

Education Resource




Expressing Emotions through Art Lesson 3-Everybody Works Together

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Visual Arts