Wine is a Mocker

Jan Steen (Dutch, c.1626-1679)
Oil on canvas 
34-3/8 x 41-1/4 in. (87.3 x 104.8 cm) 
Credit Line:
Norton Simon Art Foundation 
Accession Number:
© Norton Simon Art Foundation 
On View

The inscription above the door is from Proverbs 20:1, which reads: “Wine is a mocker, strong drink is raging and whosoever is deceived thereby is not wise.” In front of an inn, a hopelessly inebriated young woman is being helped into a wheelbarrow. Although the woman’s low-cut dress and red stockings mark
her as a prostitute, her rich and exquisitely delineated clothing indicate a more privileged status. Jan Steen subtly conveys the message that not only are those of superior position as susceptible as the lowly to the sins of drink, but that their disgrace is perhaps more pitiable because of the distance they have fallen.


Possibly Anonymous (sale, Amsterdam, 17 September 1727, no. 12).
Edward Solly (sale London, Foster & Sons, 31 May 1837, no. 68, sold 86.2 to);
Private collection, Twenthe, The Netherlands, 1938.
[Firma Daniël Katz, Dierden, by 25 June 1941, when it was seized during the German occupation of The Netherlands for Hitler’s Linz collection, recovered and returned 13 November 1947 to];
[Benjamin (b. 1891) and Nathan Katz (1893-ca. 1950, Paris].
Mad. K. L. et al sale, Paris, Charpentier, 30 Nov. 1954, lot 32;
K. L. Sander, Bloemendaal, 1957.
K. Gratma, Heemstede, 1961, (sale, Sotheby's, London, 30 June 1965, no. 100, bought in by “Patch” for 14,000), sold through;
[Galerie Cramer, The Hague, by 1968 to];
Norton Simon Art Foundation.

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