National Gallery of Art - THE COLLECTION
image of The Dancing Couple Jan Steen (artist)
Dutch, 1625/1626 - 1679
The Dancing Couple, 1663
oil on canvas
overall: 102.5 x 142.5 cm (40 3/8 x 56 1/8 in.) framed: 131.4 x 171.8 cm (51 3/4 x 67 5/8 in.)
Widener Collection
1942.9.81
On View
From the Tour: Johannes Vermeer and Dutch Scenes of Daily Life in the 1600s
Object 5 of 8

Conservation Notes

The medium-weight, plain-weave fabric support is loosely woven. It has been lined with the tacking margins trimmed, and broad cusping is visible at top and bottom. A light-colored or white ground was applied smoothly and thinly overall. A creamy pink-colored underpainting of thick, rich paste paint was applied in broad striated strokes to the areas of the sky and floor, with reserves left for the dancing couple, barrel, trellis, musicians, and seated foreground figures. The poultry vendor and trio behind the fence were executed over the underpaint layer.

Paint was applied in thin, opaque layers of rich paste blended wet into wet with lively brushwork. The x-radiograph shows the underpainted areas and several artist's changes. The dancing man originally wore a smaller collar and was portrayed hatless with an outstretched proper left arm. When the arm was lowered to its present position he held the hat in his hand. The opened door was added over the sky, and changes were made in the hat of the man slouched against it. The church steeple was taller and the poultry vendor's raised left hand had a tall glass in it.

Small losses are found between the barrel and dancing man, to the left of the poultry vendor, in the serving maid at the far left, and along the edges. Slight abrasion is present overall. The blue skirt of the woman at far left and the bricks above her were unfinished. The painting was cleaned in 1930 and in 1944-1945.

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