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Artist: Jan Steen
[Dutch painter, 1625-1679]

Title: The Burgomaster of Delft and his Daughter

Date: 1655
Medium: oil on canvas
Dimensions: 33 x 27 inches (83 x 69 cm)
Location: Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam

Image size: 879 x 1024 pixels, 187 Kbytes
Image source: Artcyclopedia
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Jan Steen: The Burgomaster of Delft and his Daughter

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This is a recent (2004) acquisition for the Rijksmuseum, a great portrait by one of Holland's top painters, purchased for almost 12 million euros. As the Rijksmuseum's website describes the work,
A burgher in black with his richly dressed daughter has had himself portrayed as a benefactor on the steps of his house on the Oude Delft canal. He seems to be considering his charitable deeds in front of the poor old woman and the orphan at her side who are appealing to him.
Since this was presumably a commissioned portrait, that may well be the interpretation that Steen and his subject intended. But I can't get over the fact that the Burgomeister (i.e. mayor) is clearly doing nothing at all in response to the old woman's appeal. If she's asking for money, he's certainly not opening his purse to find any. Is he listening compassionately, or are he and his daughter merely occupied with posing for one of Holland's top painters?
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