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Jan Steen: 'Skittle Players outside an Inn'
Visiting country inns to eat, drink and play skittles and bowls became a popular pastime for the increasing urban population of the Dutch Republic. Here, Steen captures the carefree mood of time spent away from the burdens and obligations of everyday working life. The high degree of skill that Steen achieves in the concentration and animation of this scene can be judged when it is compared with a comparable painting by the Flemish artist, David Teniers, 'Peasants playing Bowls outside a Village Inn' (also in the National Gallery's Collection).

The picture was probably painted in 1660-3, when Steen was living in Haarlem.

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