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Title Girl Eating Oysters, Jan Steen
Library Mauritshuis
Date c.1658-1660
Description This is the smallest painting Jan Steen ever made. A young woman looks at us while sprinkling salt on an oyster. Spread out on the table before her is a beautifully painted still life, consisting of oysters, a Delft blue pitcher next to a glass of wine, a silver tray containing a half-eaten roll and a little mound of salt and peppercorns spilling out of a paper cone. More oysters are being prepared in the kitchen in the background. This painting bears a resemblance to the work of the Leiden 'fine painter' Frans van Mieris. The similarities include the small format, the refined execution of the fur and the velvet, and the scene's erotic undertones (in the seventeenth century oysters were thought to be an aphrodisiac).
Document Type Painting
Primary Commodity Miscellaneous
Theme Social Practice; Art and Literature
Keywords salt, alcohol, glass, spices, pepper, paper, fur, fish, oysters
Region Europe
Additional Information Steen made this painting while living in Warmond, near Leiden, where Van Mieris worked.
Copyright Jan Steen, 1626-1679, Girl eating oysters, c. 1658-1660, Panel, 20.5 x 14.5 cm (rounded upper edges), Mauritshuis, The Hague