In keeping with the theme of yesterday’s post here is another great work from The Neslson-Atkins Museum of Art: Jan Steen’s, Fantasy Interior with Jan Steen and the Family of Gerrit Schouten. Like many paintings from this region in the 17th century, I am immediately attracted by its symbol saturation. This painting is trying to tell you something. I particularly relish how overt some messages continue to be and how other allusions have become obscured by the passage of time.
Resting on the mantlepiece is the unlikely bust of Death with the inscription, Discite Mori (learn to die). But before the viewer is overcome with existential angst they should remember the words written upon the harpsichord: musica pellet curas (music drives away care). These words give us a strong foothold to interpret and thereby enjoy the work even though images such as half peeled citrus fruit (the transience of luxury) have lost most of their moral force in the 21st century.
(Thanks to John Walford’s Art History photostream for the images.)