The painting probably dates from about 1670, the year when Steen returned from Haarlem to Leiden. It is unusual among his works for the theatrical character of the setting and the action depicted. The main focus of the composition is the seated lady, dressed in brown and orange, who is represented singing, with an open music book in her lap. The men to each side, one holding a glass of wine and one playing a lute, wear old-fashioned costumes with ruffled collars which probably derive from the dress of figures in the popular theatre of the time, the Commedia dell'Arte.

Key facts

Artist dates
1626 - 1679
Full title
Two Men and a Young Woman making Music on a Terrace
Date made
about 1670-5
Medium and support
Oil on canvas
43.8 x 60.7 cm
Inscription summary
Acquisition credit
Bought, 1894
Inventory number
Location in Gallery