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Jan Steen (Leiden 1626-Leiden 1679)

Interior of a Tavern, with Cardplayers and a Violin Player c.1665

Oil on canvas | 81.9 x 70.6 cm (support, canvas/panel/str external) | RCIN 405825

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This debaucherous scene appears to take place in the tavern of a brothel. On the right a group of men compete for a woman's favours in a card game – she holds up the Ace of diamonds indicating that she will ultimately emerge victorious. The laughing figure to the left near the hearth is a self-portrait of the artist, Jan Steen, who often inserted his own face into his scenes of everyday life. He is usually shown as a willing participant rather than a moralistic admonisher. Eighteenth-century sale catalogues reveal that the identification of a Steen self-portrait in one his genre scenes was an attractive selling point.