Collection Online
oil on wood panel
55.6 × 43.0 cm
inscribed in black paint l.c.l.: JS (monogram) teen
Accession Number
International Painting
Credit Line
National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne
Felton Bequest, 1922
This digital record has been made available on NGV Collection Online through the generous support of Digitisation Champion Ms Carol Grigor through Metal Manufactures Limited
Gallery location
17th Century & Flemish Paintings Gallery
Level 2, NGV International

Jan Steen’s bawdy Interior, like his portrayals of dissolute households, is a catalogue of domestic vices, where the notion of the virtuous family is turned upside down, its moral transgressions recorded with humour. In a typically comic touch, Steen has included himself as a laughing drunkard. The meticulous execution reflects the influence of such Leiden fijnschilders (fine painters) as Gerrit Dou and Frans van Mieris, but the greater emphasis on the narrative linking of the main figures’ gestures and expressions suggests that this painting was created c. 1661–65, while Steen was living in Haarlem.

Frame: Made by A. Ercolani and Son, London 1922


A plaque inlaid on the reverse of the frame identifies the maker. The frame is a reproduction based on seventeenth-century models, using tortoise shell and ebony with stepped corners. Though the frame was presumably built as a representation of a Dutch frame it might also be associated with a German Baroque form.3 Its use on the Steen is demonstrative of early twentieth-century notions of historical reproductions and the belief that a museum frame should be elaborate. The frame was made at the time of acquisition. and is an exceptionally fine example of craftsmanship that would have been expensive to build, making use of costly materials and highly developed workmanship.


1 The frame was made at the time of acquisition, (Frank Rinder letter to the Felton Bequest Committee, 6 April 1922).

2 For a detailed discussion of the use of turtle shell in this form of veneering see Donald C. Williams, Tortoiseshell and imitation tortoiseshell, Proceedings of the sixth international symposium on wood and furniture conservation, 2002. This distinction in the shell was brought to my attention by Paul Mitchell.

3 See Pieter van Thiel, Framing in the Golden Age – Picture and Frame in 17th Century Holland, Rijksmuseum, 1995, p. 25, n. 4 and Claus Grimm, The Book of Picture Frames, Abaris Books, New York, 1981.

A. Ercolani and Son
27 Claremont Rd., Walthamstow, London

The principal materials of the frame are tortoise shell and ebony on a softwood base. The chassis of the frame is a solid timber section, which is unusual but reflective of the seventeenth-century frames it imitates. The ripple-moulded decorative strips are shaped in ebony and the scotia sections are veneered. The shell is likely to be turtle and in this instance the blond colour and the grain pattern of the timber provide the underlayer of colour and subtle pattern.2


Good original condition.

80.7 x 69.0 x 5.8 cm; sight 77.1 x 65.4 cm
More Information
National Portrait Gallery