The Sick Woman, c. 1660

Jan Havicksz. Steen

About The Sick Woman

The theme of lovesickness was extremely popular in both painting and the theatre in the seventeenth century. Suppressed desire led to a vague syndrome known as ‘hysteria’. The satire is played out with the arrival of the doctor, in this case an old spinster with an enema syringe.

About Jan Havicksz. Steen

Jan Steen is known for his humorous depictions of the everyday life of farmers and the middle-classes in 17th-century Holland. He worked in The Hague, Haarlem, Delft, where he also rented a brewery, and Leiden where he ran an inn. His genre paintings as a rule had a strong moralistic meaning, some of them even examples of Old Dutch proverbs. People still talk of a 'household by Jan Steen' to refer to a messy and exuberant way of house-keeping.


The Sick Woman


Jan Havicksz. Steen, Leiden 1626 - Leiden 1679


c. 1660


This object is on view in room 28

Type of object


Accession number

VdV 77


h. 26.5 x w. 21.5 cm (met lijst) h. 37 x w. 31 x d. 6 cm

Material and technique

oil on panel


Bruikleen / Loan: Stichting Willem van der Vorm 1972


Old Masters




oil (material > artist's material > paint > oil)

panel (material > organic material > vegetable material > wood > worked wood > panel)


painting (two-dimensional object > painting > painting)

Geographical origin

Harlem (Europe > Western Europe > The Netherlands > North Holland > Harlem)