"Dancing couple" - genre scene, which Ian Stan wrote in 1663. This image of a vibrant village party is now part of the collection of the National Gallery of Art in Washington, DC. In the painting, the artist created a fussy atmosphere kermis or village fair, including in the narrative a lot of symbolic references, popular both with Dutch painters, and with the Flemish Peter Brueghel the Elder.
Jan Sten is most often associated with images of unrestrained fun in taverns, at village festivals and in dissolute families. However, his work embraces a much wider range of moods and subjects - from the intimate image of a modest family, offering a thanksgiving prayer before eating (1), before paintings on historical and religious themes (1, 2). But most of them unite a warm and compassionate reaction to the lives of ordinary people.
In the work "The Dancing Couple" presents all five human feelings, listed by the ancient Greek philosopher Aristotle: sight, hearing, smell, touch and taste. In the center of the composition is coupledancing on a veranda entwined with grapes. There are people around who enjoy food and booze, musicians with a violin and a flute, and also playing children, including a boy blowing bubbles. Several people are watching the fun from behind the fence, and group in middle right on the right With obvious condemnation.
Music here embodies hearing, dance - sight, touch of dancers - touch, food - taste, and its smell and aroma of tobacco - sense of smell. Jan Stan often portrayed himself among the characters of his paintings. Then he turned on the self-portrait on the left side of the composition, presenting himself as a man, who touches the chin of a lady sitting beside him with his fingertips.
On the canvas there are many hints that expand the narrative. A pair of dancers, it seems, comes from different classes: the dress of a woman is richer than the costume of her partner. This confirms the widespread opinion that in Holland of the 17th century social differences did not play a significant role. Vines symbolize luck and wealth on the one hand, and on the other, they can personify feminine fertility if they decorate a wedding feast. It is possible that Stan depicted just such a holiday, although the dancing and look like an unlikely pair.
However, Steen was a moralist and often included symbols of the transience of human life, the fleetingness of time and love in his paintings. In this seemingly frivolous scene, a broken pot carries such a meaning, cut flowers and soap bubbles. Some scholars believe that birds in a cage mean virginity, and eggshell on the floor - its loss. The artist makes it clear that earthly pleasures are short-lived, and one must turn to the imperishable values embodied by the church bell in the background.
Most of the works of Jan Wall (it is believed that over the course of his career he created about eight hundred paintings, of which 350 have survived to this day) are characterized by subtle references to literature and theater, including the Italian sitcom del arte (comedy of masks). The stereotype that the artist drank a lot and often depicted in his paintings his own chaotic family is based on the fact that in addition to painting he was engaged in brewing and kept a tavern. In the Dutch language, there is even the expression "House Wall", meaning noisy and careless economy. However, there is no reliable confirmation of this legend. Judging by the number, quality and depth of the work, Jan Sten was devoted to painting, and the financial difficulties of his family are explained by the number of households (the artist had eight children from two marriages) and economic catastrophes that hit Holland at the end of the Golden Age.