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More than a dozen light-skinned men, women, and children eat, drink, talk, and make music around a dancing couple under an arbor in this horizontal painting. Most of the people are dressed in muted tones of green, gray, and black. The patio-like space is enclosed by a railing along the back and a half wall to our right. Sage-green vines and leaves covering the roof-like trellis hang down. Ten men and women sit or stand closely around a long table along the left, next to the exterior wall of a red brick building. A woman sitting in a wooden chair at the end of the table closest to us wears a flax-yellow gown with a wide white collar and a starched white cap. She smiles up at the child she braces in her lap. The child stands and holds a toy in both hands and looks over one shoulder to our right. The child wears a carrot-orange gown with a white pinafore. Two men lean out of open windows at the far end of the brick building, and the people along the table drink, smile, or look on as a man in the center leads a woman by the hand to an open spot under the arbor. He wears a charcoal-gray suit, and a muted pink cap is pulled low over his eyes. He has a long, hooked nose, and light glints off teeth in his smiling mouth. The woman is pulled behind the man, so she stands flat-footed to our left of him. She faces our right but turns to looks at us from the corners of her dark eyes. Her light brown hair is gathered at the back of her head under a pearl-lined covering. She wears a dusty rose-pink gown with a sheer black shawl around her shoulders and white apron at her waist. Beyond the back rail, a man smiles widely as he balances a covered basket containing a gray chicken with one hand on his head. Nearby, a boy on our side of the rail talks with a little girl across the railing, who smiles back. Two men and a woman wearing a black head covering talk a short distance away. Close to us, a man, woman, and child in the lower right corner sit near two young men perched on the half wall, one playing a violin and the other a flute. A gleaming pewter ewer, a wooden barrel with a square opening, a white pipe, a terracotta bowl, broken eggs, a spoon, and an overturned pail of flowers lie scattered across the foreground of the patio. The artist signed and dated the lower left, “JSteen. 1663,” with the J and S overlapping.

Jan Steen, The Dancing Couple, 1663, oil on canvas, Widener Collection, 1942.9.81

Jan Steen's The Dancing Couple

Drawing workshop

Sketchbook Club

  • Tuesday, May 7, 2024
  • 5:00 p.m. – 5:30 p.m.
  • Fun for Kids
  • Virtual
  • Registration Required

Sketchbook Club is recommended for families with children of all ages. Registration required. 

Join the party as we sketch inspired by Jan Steen's The Dancing Couple
This is one club where you don’t need a membership to join! National Gallery of Art teaching artists will lead free, 30-minute sketches inspired by works of art from the National Gallery’s collection. Add new drawings to your sketchbook or just doodle along with us as we explore a different prompt each session.  


All you need are a pencil and paper. We encourage you to bring colored pencils, crayons, markers, or paints as well, but these are optional.


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