Self-Portrait of Jan Steen: Painter of the Dutch Golden Age
Reached for his comments on the many economic and social problems that afflict the United States and its households today, the great Dutch painter Jan Steen (1626-1679) simply said that nothing was new under the sun. He said he had no words to describe his thoughts on the subject, only paintings, and referred me specifically to these, which I now share:
Beware of Luxury: Households were crumbling under credit card debt for acquisition of luxury goods.
The Idlers: Unemployment and all its attendant evils were on the rise.
Effects of Intemperance: Substance abuse left adults dumb and children without supervision.
The Village School: Kids didn't learn anything in schools and paid no attention to the "teacher."
Love Sickness: People thought only about sex and their e-mails.
The Burgher: While the poor suffered, fat cats took the money for themselves.
The Doctor's Visit: Only the rich could afford health care.
Asked what could be possible antidotes to these ills, Mr. Steen with a nod, pointed me to these paintings:
Grace Before the Meal: Remember what is truly important and be thankful.
The Schoolmaster: Forget Dr. Spock.
Self-Portait as a Lutenist: Never lose your sense of humor.