Wine is a Mocker
Jan Steen (Dutch, c.1626-1679)
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.


  • Artist Name: Jan Steen (Dutch, c.1626-1679)
  • Title: Wine is a Mocker
  • Date: 1663-64
  • Medium: Oil on canvas
  • Dimensions: 34-3/8 x 41-1/4 in. (87.3 x 104.8 cm)
  • Credit Line: Norton Simon Art Foundation
  • Accession Number: M.1969.05.P
  • Copyright: © Norton Simon Art Foundation

Object Information

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.

Haarlemsche meesters uit de eeuw van Frans Hals, tentoonstelling ter Gelegenheid van de viering van het 100-jsrig bestaan van Haarlem

  • Haarlem, Frans Hals Museum, 1946-07-06 to 1946-09-16

Jan Steen: Painter and Storyteller

  • National Gallery of Art (Washington, DC), 1996-04-28 to 1996-08-18
  • Rijksmuseum, 1996-09-21 to 1997-01-12

Meesterwerken uit vier eeuwen, 1400-1800

  • Rotterdam, Museum Boymans, 1938-06-15 to 1938-10-18

[on loan]

  • Phoenix, Phoenix Art Museum, 1969-02-20 to 1969-07-08

Reinstallation of Galleries: Art History of the 17th and 18th Century Gains Fresh Dimension

  • Norton Simon Museum, 1993-09-02 to 1995-08-13

All Consuming: Art and the Essence of Food

  • Norton Simon Museum, 2023-04-14 to 2023-08-14

Selections from the Norton Simon, Inc. Museum of Art

  • Princeton University Art Museum, 1972-12-03 to 1974-07-17
  • Selections from the Norton Simon Museum, Inc. Museum of Art, no. 11 pp. 48-49
  • Chapman, H. Perry and Arthur K. Wheelock, et al., Jan Steen: Painter and Storyteller, no. 38 pp. 222-224
  • Smith, John, A Catalogue Raisonné of the Works of the Most Eminent Dutch, Flemish, and French Painters, no. 37
  • Hofstede de Groot, C., A Catalogue Raisonné of the Most Eminent Dutch Painters of the Seventeenth Century, no. 103
  • Bredius, J., Jan Steen, pl. 67 p. 63
  • The Burlington Magazine, pl. XLII
  • Steadman, David, Art Journal, fig. 7 pp. 34-40
  • Martin, Wilhelm, Jan Steen, p. 73
  • Hoet, Gérard, Catalogus of naamlyst van schilderyen, 1752, no. 12 p. 319
  • van Westrheene, T., Jan Steen: études sur l'art en Hollande, 1856, no. 390
  • Wurzbach, A., Niederländisches Künstler-Lexicon, 1910, p. 658
  • Meesterweken uit vier eeuwen, 1400-1800, 1938, no. 147, pl. 94 p. 36
  • Haarlemsche meesters uit de eeuw van Frans Hals, 1946, no. 125
  • Cramer Oude Kunst, Catalogue No. XV, 1968, no. 59
  • Braun, Karel, Alle tot nu toe bekende schilderijen van Jan Steen, 1980, no. 191 p. 112
  • Norton Simon Museum, Selected Paintings at the Norton Simon Museum, 1980, p. 59
  • Rumsey, T., Men and Women in Revolution and War, 1600 - 1815, 1985, p. 325
  • Masterpieces from the Norton Simon Museum, 1989, p. 59
  • Westermann, Mariët, The Amusements of Jan Steen, 1997, fig. 60 pp. 122, 279, 281, 292
  • Rousova, Andrea, Petr Brandl-painter of earthly vices. Genre paintings in his ouvre., 2004, pp. 36-37 pp. 36-37
  • Campbell, Sara, Collector Without Walls: Norton Simon and His Hunt for the Best, 2010, cat. 569 p. 313
  • Edwin Bujisen, Quentin Buvelot, Ariane van Suchtelen, Lea van ger Vinde, Milou Goverde, Genre Paintings in the Mauritshuis, 2016, fig. 48d p. 270 ; p. 271 (ill.)
  • Ariane van Suchtelen et al, Jan Steen's Histories, 2018, fig. 11 p. 62
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Additional Artwork by Artist

Bathsheba Jan Steen late 1660s
Jacob Confronting Laban Jan Steen c. 1667-68
Marriage at Cana Jan Steen 1676

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