A woman looks at us intently, while plucking her sistrum. She is sitting in an empty room, so there are no distractions, and we cannot escape her gaze. Jan Steen is known mainly for his humorous domestic scenes, although he also painted various seductive women like this one.

Strangely enough, Steen gave the woman a black headscarf, which you would expect to see an old crone wearing. The contrast between the demure headscarf and her intent gaze makes it unclear what she wants from the viewer.


  • Title: Woman Playing the Cittern
  • Creator: Steen, Jan
  • Date Created: c. 1662
  • Physical Dimensions: h31 cm x w27.5 cm
  • Provenance: Dutch private collection; G. Smith et al. sale, London, 10 April 1880 (Lugt 40066), no. 94 (110 guilders); J.P. Heseltine, London; Frits Lugt, Maartensdijk, 1919; E.G. Verkade, Delft; H.J. Verkade-Van Gelder, The Hague, May 1928 (on loan to the Mauritshuis, since 1919); purchased with the aid of private individuals, 1928
  • Type: painting; oil
  • Medium: panel

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