The Road to Emmaus
One of the more subtlety complex scenes of the Bible’s New Testament is that of the so-called ‘Emmaus’. Imbued with a rich iconographic tradition, it is perhaps Jan Steen’s portrayal of the scene (fig. 1), within the oeuvres of Dutch Golden Age artists, that remains most unique.1 The story of Emmaus, which is read in church on the first Sunday after Easter, appears in the Gospel of Luke and Mark, though not in that of Matthew or John. The Gospel of Mark only mentions the Emmaus event within one sentence, and it contains almost no factual information: ‘After that he appeared in another form unto two of them, as they walked, and went into the country.’2 The Gospel of Luke, on the other hand, contains a vivid description of the Emmaus scene:
‘And they drew nigh unto the village, whither they went: and he made as though he would have gone further. But they constrained him, saying, Abide with us: for it is toward evening, and the day is far spent. And he went in to tarry with them. And it came to pass, as he sat at meat with them, he took bread, and blessed it, and broke it, and gave to them. And their eyes were opened, and they knew him; and he vanished out of their sight. And they said one to another, Did not our heart burn within us, while he talked with us by the way, and while he opened to us the scriptures?’3
This scene closely follows on the resurrection of Christ. When myrrhbearing women come to Christ’s tomb in the morning, his grave is empty. Angels announce to them: he has risen. The women are in a state of disbelief, but they let themselves be convinced. They are told: don’t search for him here, as he has gone to Galilee, because that’s where his life started, and he’s starting it again. No one believes the story. The women are told: that’s not possible. Their story of the resurrection of Christ is contradicted, from its beginning. Later, two men are walking disillusioned on the road to the town of Emmaus, which they reach as nightfall nears, coming from Jerusalem. One is thought to be Luke the Evangelist, and the other to be Cleopas. They have also been told that Christ has risen, though they continue forward as if that were not actually true. Those two men believed in Christ, but are now disappointed. He would set them free from Roman occupation; yet nothing happened. After his death, they went home. The story was over. Though a third figure walking alongside them shows interest in their conversation. The reader knows the identity of the third conversationalist: Christ. Yet Cleopas and Luke are blinded by their grief and disillusion, and don’t recognize him; their eyes are closed. Christ invites them to expand upon their disbelief; they continue on and explain their situation. Christ tells the two men of his rising; they remain blindfolded by their disbelief.
When they arrive home, at Emmaus, their stranger wishes to continue walking onward. But the two men invite him to stay for dinner. However, seated at the table, their roles reverse. He, the guest, does what the host should do. He takes their bread, blesses it and breaks it. It is at this moment that Cleopas and Luke recognize him, as Christ had made the very same gesture, on the evening before his death, on Easter. At this very moment, the two men finally ‘see the light’–only to watch Christ recede into the shadows. When Christ was among them, they didn’t see him; the moment they recognized him, he had gone. Their mourning was so deep that they were closed to any opportunity presented before them. The two men had walked home disillusioned, as everything, so it seemed to them, had been lost. Now that they’d realized it was Christ, they go back to Jerusalem and do as the myrrhbearing women had previously done: they retell what they have seen and heard; how the gesture of breaking the bread, has made them recognize Christ during their supper at Emmaus. They tell their unbelievable tale: Christ has risen! Though they are informed, that they are both fools. The most surprising aspect of the narrative, is that Christ, after he’s made himself known by breaking the bread, just disappears. He does not instruct his disciples; he does not scold them because of their prior disbelief; and they are not punished for it. All that matters is that their eyes are opened–to Christ.
The ‘Emmaus’ scene, as portrayed in art, is considered to be the events prior to Christ and the two disciples’ dinner in Emmaus, the dinner itself–often with Luke and Cleopas’ astonishment portrayed–the disappearance of Christ, as well as the journey of Christ’s two disciples back to Jerusalem. The scene is perhaps most associated with Caravaggio, who painted it twice: both works show the moment that Christ is suddenly recognized, after breaking the disciples’ bread. Another artist often associated with the scene is Albrecht Dürer, who portrayed it similarly. Though as noted, of painters from the Dutch Golden Age that have also portrayed the scene, the most enigmatic, and perhaps successful, remains Steen’s. Within it, he portrays the supper scene, though the two disciples and Christ are situated around a table, outdoors. The two disciples appear to be asleep, while Christ simultaneously vanishes from the loggia. Rather than portray the moment that Christ was recognized, Steen left his disciples in a calm, stilled, silent world–their maid boy and girl continue about their duties, as if nothing at all were out of the ordinary. Steen’s Supper at Emmaus thus touches upon the themes of disillusion and mourning, the inability to properly observe one’s surroundings, and the space for illusion and disbelief. Many portrayals of the Supper at Emmaus focus on the moment that Christ breaks the bread, as opposed to his disappearance. Though Steen’s portrayal of this reoccurring motif is a split moment later in time, and it elevates its central idea, above its manifestation. Though, who is Jan Steen? Who are his main connoisseurs and what remarks have they made about his Supper at Emmaus? And what makes Steen’s Supper at Emmaus so special, compared to the scene’s portrayal, by other artists of the Dutch Golden Age?
Jan Steen’s c. 1665/68 Supper at Emmaus
Jan Steen (1625/26, Leiden-1679) was a Dutch Golden Age painter, who is perhaps best known for his genre scenes of often-rowdy tavern interiors. Two of his best-known works are his c. 1670 Self-Portrait and his c. 1655 Burgomaster of Delft–both at the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam. Though in addition to genre, Steen also painted history and biblical scenes, alongside portraits and landscapes. Genre however, remains his strong point. Numerous connoisseurs have named Steen’s c. 1665/68 Supper at Emmaus as a success, while others have referred to it and its ambitions as a failure. Within the work, rather than show the moment of the scene that is most often portrayed–the moment the two disciples recognize Christ before them, usually as he breaks bread, or directly afterward–Steen’s scene shows the two disciples, Luke and Cleopas, in what appears to be a state of sleep or contemplation, with two maid servants attending the table. Christ is seen in the act of disappearing. Steen portrayed the scene in the most peculiar way: his disciples, rather than shocked, or a state of disbelief, appear to be completely unaware of Christ’s disappearance; the maid servants are completely oblivious to their surroundings.
Steen’s Supper at Emmaus is on canvas, and shows a dinner table below a loggia, at which Luke and Cleopas are seated. A servant boy pours wine into a roemer, a white towel over his right shoulder, with his back turned toward the viewer. To his right is a man dressed in a light brown tunic with a white ruff, who appears to be asleep, with hands folded in his lap. Seated at the back of the table is a man in an orange tunic, who holds a knife in his left hand, which rests on the table, as his right hand, its elbow on the table, supports his head. His eyes are also closed, and he also appears to be in a state of deep sleep. Behind him a servant-girl stands, her costume teal and white. Her arms bear a basket of. Behind her, at left right, is an archway, with a wooden fence, with an undecipherable cartouche above it. The archway reveals that the loggia portrayed, which the viewer looks into, though is not under, is attached to a small garden, at left of the table and loggia. Two columns with Corinthian capitals support the loggia, on whose branches grow vines of ivy and thistle. The floor on which the table rests is elevated from the garden; on it rests broken eggshells. The table, bedecked by a white cloth, is home to broken bread, as well as a metal plate with a half peeled lemon. Between the two columns that support the loggia, Christ can be seen, caught in the act of capricious disappearance–yet unnoticed.
The hallucinatory state that Christ’s two disciples are portrayed as in, in Steen’s Supper at Emmaus, is the reason the painting breaks the scene’s iconographic portrayal tradition, as established, for instance, by Caravaggio, or that of Dürer before him. The Emmaus motif circulated in the Netherlands, prior to Steen’s portrayal of it. The ‘Supper at Emmaus’ was once even linked to motif exchange between Antwerp and Amsterdam, in which the dinner scene at Emmaus is subordinated to backgrounds of kitchen paintings, such as those of Joachim Beuckelaer (1533, Antwerp-1574) and Floris van Schooten (1590, Haarlem-1655).4 Though in Steen’s portrayal, Christ is not subordinated to the background; the two disciples’ stances have been the cause for Steen’s connoisseurs to have found the work to be a failure, troubled, amusing, or, as with a few, a grand success. The reading of the work by Steen’s connoisseurs, has bestowed its historiography with an intimate debate, as to its iconographic successfulness. Steen also portrayed other biblical scenes prior to as well as after his Supper at Emmaus; though only here, is he said to have attempted to invoke the emotional intensity of Rembrandt, within his own biblical scenes.5 Success or failure, Steen’s work is a unique portrayal of the Supper at Emmaus within the oeuvres of Dutch Golden Age painters; though the motif has been portrayed by others such artists, they elevated its manifestation above idea. By choosing to show the disciples in a state of ambiguity, perhaps sleep, regarding the viewer, Steen leaves the possibility of interpretation open, by not staking claim to a well-trodden portrayal, to instead straddle the moment of recognition, and the capricious disappearance of Christ.
Dutch Golden Age Artists & the Emmaus Motif
What other Dutch Golden Age painters have portrayed the Supper at Emmaus motif? Jan Steen was Catholic, which makes his Supper at Emmaus all the more unusual, as he elevates the scene’s idea above its manifestation–a more Protestant stance toward its portrayal. This is in direct contrast to other such painters and their works bearing the Supper at Emmaus, such as those by Abraham Bloemaert (1566-1651), Hendrick Jansz ter Brugghen (1588-1629), and Rembrandt van Rijn (1606-1669). Rembrandt portrayed the scene at least four separate times, though only twice in paint, and Steen twice; another version by him was documented in the eighteenth century, though it is now thought to be lost.6 A series of prints and drawings by other Dutch Golden Age artists, also show the theme to have been a moderately popular Bible motif to portray, as with its representation by Gerard ter Borch (1617-1681), and Samuel van Hoogstraten (1627-1678)–who was once Rembrandt’s pupil. Steen, unlike his peers, chose to portray a moment from the Supper at Emmaus that combines both action–Christ’s–with the two disciples in a state of disbelief, which peculiarly finds form in their solemn slouching, which complicates comparison of Steen’s Emmaus depiction, to that of others. A concise comparison to Steen’s version of the Supper at Emmaus, organized around a table, to other Dutch Golden Age artists follows, in order to illustrate Steen’s innovativeness.
Rembrandt portrayed the Emmaus scene in two paintings, and within at least three drawings. Of his two paintings, the first could be considered the traditional portrayal of the Emmaus scene, with Christ and his disciples gathered around a table, with an architectural archway leading off into the darkness behind them; the disciples recognize Christ as he breaks bread. Rembrandt portrayed the same moment in his other painting of the scene, though there he used a stronger chiaroscuro contrast, positioning Christ’s back to the viewer; the light emanates from a source unseen in front of Christ. One of his prints shows the moment Christ is recognized; a drawing shows the same moment as that of Steen, though rather than be in a state of sleep, Christ’s disciples are in awe; while another shows Christ and his disciples on their way to Emmaus for dinner, not during. While some artists of the Dutch Golden Age have copied Rembrandt’s print, others have left their own of Emmauses, such as Ter Borch’s ink on paper drawing, which shows the moment that Christ is breaking bread, as does that of Van Hoogstraaten. Ter Brughen and Bloemaert have also painted the scene, both portraying the same moment, and the typical moment of the scene–enforcing the uniqueness of Steen’s. In Bloemaert’s portrayal of the scene, his two disciples are gathered around the table, with not one’s back toward the viewer. However no one looks toward the viewer, either; semi-circular in organization, they cluster around Christ as he breaks bread. The maid continues going about typical tasks, as if a miracle were not occurring. Rarely does Christ’s disappearance in supper at Emmaus scenes, not include astonished onlookers–as in most drawings and paintings discussed here. Only in Steen’s Supper at Emmaus, compared to those of other Dutch Golden Age artists, are the disciples in a profoundly introspective, yet, outdoors space.
Jan Steen’s Contrasting Connoisseurs
Appreciation of Steen’s work has crescendoed throughout the centuries since his death; Arnold Houbracken was his first true biographer, followed by Jacob Campo-Weyerman, who both took his oeuvre less than seriously, associating it and him, with comedy; it was a classification that remained attached to Steen’s name throughout the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. In 1864 Tobias Van Westrheene resuscitated Steen’s reputation with his corrective publication Jan Steen: Historisch-Romantische Schetsen. Steen’s personal and professional revival continued throughout the close of the nineteenth century, most notably with the assistance of Abraham Bredius (1855-1946) and Cornelius Hofstede de Groot (1863–1930).7 Though it was Wilhelm Martin (1876-1954), who first began to add to their Steen conversation, with his writings on Steen, beginning in 1909; he was followed by several Steen connoisseurs, all of whom emerged as such during the twentieth century: Hendrik Enno van Gelder (1876-1960), Frederik Schmidt Degener (1881-1941), Jan Gerrit van Gelder (1903-1980), and Lyckle de Vries (1937-). Numerous others have since joined the Steen conversation, from time to time, as Cornelius Wilhemus de Groot (1952; PhD dissertation, University of Nijmegen), Mariët Westerman (The Amusements of Jan Steen, 1998), and Baruch D. Kirschbaum (The Religious and Historical Paintings of Jan Steen, 1977). Though, only Martin should be considered to be the central Steen connoisseur; De Vries comes in a close second, according to the amount of Steen literature each has published. Whereas most connoisseurs have kept Steen’s personality central to their analysis of his work–as Schmidt Degener and Bredius–stylistic analysis dominates the work of Martin.
In 1927 Bredius remarked of Steen’s the Supper at Emmaus that, ‘There is something remarkably modern in this beautiful painting. The quiet sleep of both pious men, a sober color range–the two men are in brown, as if they were monks, the servant is in red, the maid is in white, short sleeves–the magical appearance of Christ, everything about this painting is solemn, and one forgets the jokester that our painter actually is.’8 Here, the disciples are highlighted for the composure of their colorful costume, praised as typical of Steen’s work, though they are also stated as asleep. Writing of the work in 1927, Frederik Schmidt Degener is the first Steen connoisseur, to link it to the works of Rembrandt:
‘In his Supper at Emmaus at the Rijksmuseum, Steen brought into play every gift that was at the command of his talent–his easy touch, his sustained presentation, the impressive sweep of his large contours, his evening tones, and his golden atmosphere… only Rembrandt, with his depth of inner life, could fathom the whole mystery of this story. Steen presents it all to perfection. Truly, there is in his work a strong religious sense, and each character acts his part flawlessly; but instead of an ecstatic disciples we are shown a sham pilgrim, the Savior is commonplace, and the skies do not open: where is the real miracle? His effort to escape from his habitual atmosphere, this groping quest after the unattainable, has about it an air of such nobility that it makes our admiration for the master warmer and, as it were, more human.’9
Even though Schmidt Degener compares Steen’s Supper at Emmaus to Rembrandt’s work, he specifically notes the lack of inner intensity in Steen’s. His searching for a ‘miracle’ within the work is shortsighted; the miracle of the work rests in the introverted stillness of the disciples, the mental space in which the viewers find themselves, and in which the viewer receives them, within that space. There is no need for an extroverted, spectacular miracle. The miracle within Steen’s Supper of Emmaus is precisely its stillness. Schmidt Degener concluded of the work that, ‘No other Steen scene from sacred history is so simple and so full of truly religious atmosphere. There is no novelty of conception: the Christ is quite conventional; but the great simplicity of the work has a peculiar charm.’10 Despite his perceived shortcomings, Schmidt Degener maintained the work’s success.
Wilhelm Martin was a German-born Dutch art historian; he is also the central Steen connoisseur. In 1901 he received his PhD from Leiden University, with dissertation on Gerrit Dou. It was the first Dutch art history PhD. Martin was the Mauritshuis’ Assistant Director from 1901-1909, and later Director, from 1909-1945.11 In 1936, he remarked of Steen’s Supper at Emmaus, ‘Here the purely religious meaning is clear, but one need only to eliminate the appearance of Christ to bring about a genre with a sleeping and a drowsy guest, a butler and a maid.’12 With the comment, Martin brought into question the fluidity of genre in Steen’s work, insinuating that he borrowed components from his many genres scenes, within his biblical works, as here. Writing in 1952, C.S. Wilhelmus De Groot observed that, ‘In spite of its shortcomings, the Supper at Emmaus remains a very fascinating painting. It brings together both the painter’s limitations and his surprising abilities in one work… Admittedly, Steen’s Supper at Emmaus may pale compared to the one by Rembrandt, but it approaches the mood of Easter, with its light color range and especially its resurrected Christ, very well.’13 Again the work is compared to Rembrandt, which De Groot later perpetuates: ‘One has the impression, that Steen tried to approach Rembrandt’s gradual change of light. Was he thinking of the Supper at Emmaus in the Louvre?14 Martin, writing of the work in 1954, criticized it when he wrote that, ‘It is very questionable if Steen knew the limitations of his talent and if he realized, that some allegorical historical and biblical scenes were beyond his reach. Paintings like his Supper at Emmaus… are rather genre pieces.’15 Writing only 18 years later, Martin here reinforced his earlier commentary regarding Steen’s genre fluidity–and condescendingly. Coming to Steen’s rescue in 1977, was Baruch D. Kirschenbaum, who correctly stated, ‘Its representation of a religious mystery sets this picture apart within Steen’s oeuvre… Steen’s disciples are in a profound hallucinatory sleep, and the remarkable stillness of the servants creates a world of dream-trance.’6 Rather than in a moment of awe, or asleep, Steen’s disciples are in a ‘dream-trance’; the work is a hallucination of their inner worlds. Lyckle De Vries, in his 1977 dissertation on Steen, echoed the stance of Kirschenbaum, when he noted Steen’s two disciples seem to be in a state of perspicaciously pondering.16
Mariët Westermann, writing in 1997, characterized the work by stating that, ‘the painting is unusual indeed in its representation of the vanishing Christ, dissolving in faint mist before the inward apostles.’17 That same year, a major exhibition on Steen opened at the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam, and the National Gallery of Art, in Washington DC, USA. In that exhibition’s catalogue, Arthur Wheelock noted, ‘Steen’s interpretation of the event is consistent with the Catholic view of transubstantiation as formulated by the Council of Trent. Steen’s still and solemn image, in fact, touches upon one of the most dissonant theological debates then raging between Catholics and Protestants.’18 And the work’s Catholic nature has been confirmed by De Vries,19 inviting further investigation. Peter Hecht, reviewing that exhibition noted, ‘whatever (the vision of) Christ is doing in that most curious Supper at Emmaus, one would venture to say that [the disciples are] not being urged to break bread, nor are they in prayer.’20 Wheelock concluded his entry on the work by stating that, ‘Steen’s painting has not always been considered a successful achievement… Perhaps the problem rested with Steen’s effort to subordinate the biblical narrative in favor of its theological implications. Nevertheless, the Supper at Emmaus remains one of the most daring and provocative religious paintings in Dutch art.’21 By stressing the work’s importance, Wheelock assisted to enshrine its distinguished stance.22
Quite a few Jan Steen connoisseurs have described the disciples of Cleopas and Luke as asleep, within his Supper at Emmaus. Their interpretation is rather unlikely, however; the disciples instead seem to be in a state of mourning Christ’s death, just as they were before Christ physically appeared to them earlier that day, on the way to Emmaus. Baruch D. Kirschbaum’s suggestion of a ‘dream-trance’, is much more likely. Steen’s work invites introspection, as formalism in researching it, advances the research only so far. As Esther Pasztory has noted, ‘Formal analysis is a useful tool of interpretation, but it leaves things almost as mysterious and impenetrable as they were before. No matter how much I can verbalize about a Maya relief or Rembrandt self portrait, I haven’t really captured it. Dissecting a hawk doesn’t explain it.’23 Whereas formal analysis seeks not to explain, iconographic analysis does; the two are intertwined, dependent on one another, as has been shown. The dream-like nature of Steen’s work, incomprehensible through formal analysis alone, could be said to be comparable to the emotions experienced, by those mourning the loss of a loved-one. Modern-day explanations for such a hallucinatory state, can be of a physical nature (as deep mourning causes malfunctioning of the brain cells, resulting in a hallucinations) or psychological (as mourning begins with denial, and imagining the deceased). The viewer of Steen’s Supper at Emmaus sees this situation–a supper scene–as though through the disciples’ eyes; as if they were looking, at themselves. Yet that the two servants have their eyes open, and seem to be completely unaware of Christ’s disappearance from the table, suggests that Steen kept open the possibility that the scene happened completely within the minds of Cleopas and Luke; a stranger may have walked alongside them, and they may have recognized that it was Christ, by the breaking of their own bread. In Jan Steen’s Supper at Emmaus, Christ’s disciples could be said to have recognized Christ by his spiritual essence, as opposed to his physical appearance.
- Perry H. Chapman, and Wouter Th. Kloek, and Arthur Wheelock, Jr., Jan Steen: Painter and Storyteller (Zwolle: Waanders, 1997), 202.
- Gospel of Mark, Chapter 16, line 12, English translation of the King James Bible.
- Gospel of Luke, Chapter 24, lines 28-32, English translation of the King James Bible.
- Zoran Kwak, ‘Taste Making Southerners and Northern Innovators. Artistic Dialogue Between Painters of Kitchen Scenes in the Republic and the Southern Netherlands, c. 1590-1630’, De Zeeventiende Eeuw 31 no. 3 (2015): 211-239.
- Cornelis Wilhelmus S. J. De Groot, Jan Steen: Beeld en Woord (Utrecht & Nijmegen: Dekker, 1952), 179.
- Baruch D. Kirschenbaum, The Religious and Historical Paintings of Jan Steen (New York & Montclair: Allanheld & Schram, 1977), 138.
- See, for instance: Hofstede de Groot Cornelius, A Catalogue Raisonné of the Works of the Most Eminent Dutch Painters of the Seventeenth Century Based on the Work of John Smith, Volume I. (London: Macmillan & Co., 1910).
- Abraham Bredius, Jan Steen: Met Hondred Platen in Photogravure (Amsterdam: Scheltema, 1927), 37. ‘Er is iets verbazend moderns in de opvatting van deze prachtige schilderij. Het rustige slapen derbeide vrome mannen, een sober koloriet–De Emmausgangers zijn in het bruin, als wareb zij monniken, de jongen in het rood, de meid in witte hemdsmouwen–de magische verschijning van Christ, alles stemt hier plechtig, en men vergeet geheel welk een grappenmaker onze schilder gewoonlijk is.’
- F. Schmidt Degener, and Hendrick Enno van Gelder, Jan Steen. (London: John Lane The Bodley Head Limited, 1927), 16.
- –––. (London: John Lane The Bodley Head Limited, 1927), 127.
- Quentin Buvelot, and Carola Vermeeren. Royal Picture Gallery, Mauritshuis (Zwolle: Waanders Publishers, 2004), 32.
- Wilhelm Martin, De Hollandsche Schilderkunst in de 17e Eeuw: Rembrandt en Zijn Tijd (Meulenhoff: Amsterdam, 1936). ‘Hier is de zuiver religieuze bedoeling duidelijk, maar men behoeft slecht de Christus-verschijning weg te laten om een genrestuk over te houden met een slapenden en een dommelenden gast, een schenker en een dienstmeisje.’
- Cornelis Wilhelmus S. J. De Groot, Jan Steen: Beeld en Woord (Utrecht & Nijmegen: Dekker, 1952), 172. ‘Ondanks tekortkomingen toch een zeer boeiend schilderij blight De Emmausgangers. Hier zijn de grenzen, maar ook de verassende mogelijkheden van de meester in één work te zamen gebracht… Meer Steen’s De Emmausgangers mag, bij Rembrandt vergeleken, wegvallen, het werk heeft met zijn licht coloriet, en vooral met zijn verrezen Christus de Paasstemming benaderd.’
- Cornelis Wilhelmus S. J. De Groot, Jan Steen: Beeld en Woord (Utrecht & Nijmegen: Dekker, 1952), 179. ‘Men krijt de indruk, dat Steen hier een poging heeft gedaan om Rembrandt te benaderen in zijn lichtmetamorphosen. Stond hem De Emmausgangersuit het Louvre voor de gets?’
- Wilhelm Martin, Jan Steen (Amsterdam: Meulenhoff, 1954), 23. ‘Het is zeer de vraag of Steen de grenzen van zijn talent wel altijd juist heeft ingezien en of hij besefte, dat hij in sommige allegorische historische en Bijbels voorstellingen te hoog greep. Schilderijen gelijk zijn Emmausgangers… zijn veeleer genrestukken.’
- Lyckle De Vries, ‘Jan Steen: De Kluchtschilder’ (PhD diss, University of Groningen, 1977), 40.
- Mariët Westermann, The Amusements of Jan Steen: Comic Painting in the Seventeenth Century (Zwolle: Waanders, 1997), 27-28.
- Perry H. Chapman, and Wouter Th. Kloek, and Arthur Wheelock, Jr., Jan Steen: Painter and Storyteller (Zwolle: Waanders, 1997), 200.
- Lyckle De Vries, ‘Jan Steen’s Biblia’, Oud Holland 111 (1997): 20.
- Peter Hecht, ‘Jan Steen: Washington and Amsterdam’, The Burlington Magazine 138, (1996): 846.
- Perry H. Chapman, and Wouter Th. Kloek, and Arthur Wheelock, Jr., Jan Steen: Painter and Storyteller (Zwolle: Waanders, 1997), 202.
- Due to the exhibition ‘Class Distinctions: Dutch Painting in the Age of Rembrandt and Vermeer’ at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston (11 October 2015-18 January 2016), the work was on display in the Rijksmuseum’s ‘Gallery of Honour’, even though it is most often in storage; at the time of writing, the work was on display in the space of that gallery that is most often occupied by Steen’s other work, Burgomaster of Delft.
- Esther Pasztory, Thinking With Things (Austin: University of Texas Press, 2005), 23.