Marriage at Cana

Jan Steen (Dutch, c.1626-1679)
Oil on canvas 
31-3/8 x 43 in. (79.7 x 109.2 cm) 
Credit Line:
The Norton Simon Foundation 
Accession Number:
© The Norton Simon Foundation 
On View

The story of Christ’s first public miracle, performed at a wedding feast in the village of Cana, appears in the second chapter of John. Finding that the wine has been exhausted, Jesus transforms six stone jars filled with water into the finest wine. Jan Steen, who painted the subject six times, never depicted the miracle directly. Instead, he incorporated the event into the larger tableau of the wedding party. Jesus’ presence is hardly noticeable as he performs the miracle quietly in the middle ground.

Steen’s treatment of the religious subject demonstrates how fluidly he mingled historical and contemporary events. Here the act of drinking in celebration of love seems to be a subject equal to that of the miracle. People hold up glasses for a toast, partake of the wine and offer drinks to others, most unaware of the
dramatic transformation that has taken place.


Johanna Ghijs, widow of Pieter Anthony Bonenfandt, Zoerterwoude (sale 19 April 1775, lot 6).
[John Blackwood, London (sale London, Christie’s, 20–21 February 1778, lot 62)].
John Lecomte in Edouard O(utran) sale, (Paris, Hôtel Drouot, 18 January 1877, lot 27, bought in by John Lecomte).
Prince Paul Anatolii Demidoff (1839–1885), San Donato, Florence (sale San Donato, Pillet, 15 March 1880, lot 1126, sold for 10,000).
Alexis-Joseph Febvre (1810–1881), Paris (sale Paris, Hotel Drouot, 17–20 April 1882, lot 84, bought in or sold to Brame for fr. 4355);
Febvre, Beurnonville et al. (sale Paris, Hotel Drouot, 20 March 1883, lot 49).
Laurent-Richard collection, Paris (sale Paris, Galerie Georges Petit, 28–29 May 1886, lot 45, sold or bought in for ff. 7200 to Laurent’s daughter); Madame Jean Martin Charcot (née Victoire Augustine Laurent), Paris (†sale Paris, Chevallier, 6–9 July 1900, lot 12, ill.).
[Galerie Charles Sedelmeyer, Paris, from at least 1906 (sale Paris, 25–28 May 1907, lot 176, sold for 27,000 to)];
S. Oppenheimer for;
(?) Otto Gerstenberg, Berlin, still in 1929.
[D. Katz, Dieren].
[Duits, London, no. 6073, from August 1930, half share from 1935 with Goudstikker, Amsterdam (no. 2643)];
Acquired July 1940 by Goering;
Sold 31 March 1942 to [Goudstikker/Miedl, Amsterdam]; Sent 1942 by Alois Miedl to Switzerland, where recovered in 1945.
[Duits, London (?)].
[P. de Boer, Switzerland, on consignment to P. de Boer, Amsterdam, July 1956, sold August, 1956 to];
Professor A. H. Kleiweg de Zwaan, Neerlangbroek, 1956–1962;
Heirs of A. H. Kleiweg de Zwaan, on consignment to;
[P. de Boer, Amsterdam, sold 1968 to];
[Frederick Mont, Inc., New York, sold 1969 to];
The Norton Simon Foundation.

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