Bathsheba After the Bath

Object Details


Bathsheba After the Bath


Jan Steen (Dutch, 1626 - 1679)




about 1670 - 1675


Oil on panel


57.5 × 44.5 cm (22 5/8 × 17 1/2 in.)

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Bathsheba stares brazenly out at the viewer while a maidservant trims her toenails. King David, who saw her beauty and desired her, sent her a summons to appear at his palace. Although she was married, Bathsheba was forced to comply.

A popular subject, artists often portrayed Bathsheba as distraught about her dilemma. Here, Jan Steen depicted her as a temptress, rather than the innocent victim of the king's passion. In this moralizing painting, Steen commented on the foolishness of human behavior.

Bathsheba's robe is casually arranged to reveal her breast and bare legs. The shoe in the right foreground symbolizes lasciviousness; the fountain on the left probably alludes to female fecundity. She is so lost in her thoughts that she holds King David's note loosely in her right hand and pays no attention to the small dog or to the old woman grasping her shoulder.

mid-19th century - 1988

Private Collection [sold, Ader Picard Tajan, Paris, June 28, 1988, lot 50, to Thomas Agnew & Sons, Ltd.]
Source: 1988 sale catalogue: in the seller's family since the mid-19th century.

1988 - 1989

Thomas Agnew & Sons, Ltd. (London, England), sold to the J. Paul Getty Museum, 1989.


Ader, Picard, and Tajan, Paris. Important dessins et tableaux anciens. June 28, 1988, unpaginated, lot 50.

"Acquisitions/1990." The J. Paul Getty Museum Journal 19 (1991), pp. 176-77, no. 15.

Walsh, John. Jan Steen: The Drawing Lesson (Los Angeles: Getty Museum Studies on Art, 1996), pp. 22-23, fig. 18.

Chapman, H. Perry, Wouter Th. Kloek, and Arthur K. Wheelock, Jr. Jan Steen: Painter and Storyteller, exh. cat. (Washington, D.C.: National Gallery of Art, with Yale University Press, 1996), p. 132, fig. 1, under no. 11, entry by Arthur K. Wheelock, Jr.

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

Westermann, Mariët. The Amusements of Jan Steen: Comic Painting in the Seventeenth Century (Zwolle: Waanders, 1997), pp. 191, 290, ill.

Kloek, Wouter. Jan Steen, 1626-1679 (Amsterdam: Rijksmuseum, with Waanders, 2005), pp. 41-42, fig. 33.