The Tired Traveller
Jan Steen (Leyden 1626 – Leyden 1679)
The title of this picture dates from the nineteenth century. It gives an innocent gloss to a painting whose symbolism suggests the very opposite. The young woman is shown offering the ‘traveller’ a glass of wine from a stoneware flagon. A woman offering a drink to a man always suggests amorous exchange in Dutch 17th century painting, and in this instance the overturned rose underlines the point, with its implication of lost honour.
Oil painting on oak panel, The Tired Traveller, Jan Steen (Leyden 1626 – Leyden 1679), bottom centre: J. Steen (JS in monogram), circa 1660-61. In the garden of a country inn a traveller sits on a barrel under the shade of a vine-covered trellis; on the table before him is a rose, apparently intended for the servant girl, wearing a lemon-coloured bodice and blue skirt, who offers him a glass of wine from a flagon she holds in her right hand. Pentimenti by the man's left leg and table leg. The title given to the picture is a typically 19th century narrative distortion of its real content, giving an innocent gloss to a painting whose symbolism suggests the very opposite. A woman offering drink to a man always suggests some amorous exchange in Dutch 17th century painting; and in this instance, the overturned rose underlines the point, with its implication of honour lost.
According to the Tuffen sale catalogue in the collection of the Duc de Valentinois (i.e. the Prince de Carignan). It was not however included in this owner's sale, 18 June 1743. J.F. Tuffen sale, Christie's, 11 April 1818, lot 100: bought by Pinney; Sir Simon Clarke by 1819; his sale, Christie's, 9 May 1840, lot 100; bought by Bevan; noted by Smith (Supplement, 1842) as owned by Henry Bevan; entered the collection of Alfred de Rothschild (1842 - 1918) subsquent to 1884 (not included in the catalogue by C. Davis published in that year) but prior to 1902 (see article in Connoisseur); with Knoedler in 1924, from whom acquired by Lord Bearsted; given with Upton House to the National Trust by Walter Samuel, 2nd Viscount Bearsted (1882 – 1948), in 1948, shortly before his death
Upton House, The Bearsted Collection (National Trust)
Marks and inscriptions
J. Steen (signed, JS in monogram)
Makers and roles
Jan Steen (Leyden 1626 – Leyden 1679), artist
New Light on Old Masters, Squash Court Gallery, 2013 The Bearsted Collection, Whitechapel Gallery, London, 1955, no.29
Prized Possessions: Dutch Paintings from National Trust Houses (exh. cat.), Holburne Museum, Bath 25 May - 16 Sep 2018; Mauritshuis, The Hague, 11 Oct 2018 - 6 Jan 2019; Petworth House, West Sussex, 26 Jan - 24 Mar 2019., pp.167-71, no. 20