To the casual observer, Jan Steen’s painting seems to be nothing more than an engaging scene. The laughing man—Steen himself—is enjoying a meal of oysters, while a young woman offers him a glass of wine. The men in the background are playing a game of tric trac. The large room and all its contents—the wall hangings, the Persian carpet covering the table, and the richly decorated fireplace—suggest wealth and luxury. However, the inscription on the fireplace is a Dutch saying that means ‘easy come, easy go’. The warning is expressed in different parts of the room. The left side of the hearth represents adversity: the painting depicts a sinking ship, a weeping putto leaning on a crutch, and a cornucopia filled with spiny plants. The right side symbolizes prosperity in the form of ships sailing in calm waters, a putto holding a sceptre, and a cornucopia brimming with coins. The personification of Fortune stands in the centre—not on her customary orb, but on a dice. The painter seems to be saying that everything depends on the whims of chance. It warns the revellers in the painting—and we who look at it—that our fortunes can change in the wink of an eye.


  • Title: Easy come, easy go
  • Date Created: 1661
  • Physical Dimensions: w1040 x h790 cm (Without frame)
  • Painter: Jan Havicksz. Steen
  • Original Title: Soo gewonne, soo verteert'
  • More Info: Link - Read more about Golden Age - Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen - http://collectie.boijmans.nl/en/disclaimer/
  • Artist Information: 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.
  • Type: Painting
  • Rights: Acquired with the collection of: D.G. van Beuningen 1958, http://collectie.boijmans.nl/en/disclaimer/
  • External Link: Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen
  • Medium: Oil on canvas

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