The Dancing Couple Analysis

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Lawrence Humes 10/ 27/15
AP Art History Research Paper

This painting is the Dancing Couple created by Jan Steen. Steen was a Dutch painter living in the 17th Century. Born In 1626 in Leiden, he was raised by a family of wealthy Catholics. He was educated at a Latin School and learned from Nicolaes Knupfer, his teacher at school from where he traces his style. Along with Knupfer, Steen trained under Jan van Goyen. Although his 350 surviving works are celebrated today, Steen was considered a failure in his time. Like many artists, he was not appreciated by those of his era. Due to this aversion for his paintings, he lived a modest life focused on his artwork. He helped to start, and later became the president of the
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Isaac Newton began his developments in the field of science. The American Colonies were being established in the west. Louis XIV built his extravagant and expensive palace in France along with declaring his power as an absolute monarch. This period of art was considered a modern age where the topic of work and expression was very diverse. However, the Counter Reformation probably had the biggest effect on the period. The Counter Reformation was a response by the Catholic Church against the protestant reformation which promoting the Protestant religion; this ended after the Thirty Years’ war. Many people of the time viewed this as an enormous deprival of rights and freedoms. Artists used the style and dramatic expression of the time to depict those struggling with the injustice. However, Steen was a devout Catholic and didn’t show the same care and understanding towards those who felt the effects of the Counter Reformation. His work was more geared towards depicting a joyous, Catholic life rather than in support of a Protestant one. During this time, in the Netherlands, social structure was being altered. Wealthy landowners surpassed nobility in the social ranking by holding political positions. At the bottom were peasants who were poor laborers like in any society. The advancement of Calvinism, which promoted humility and an elimination of classes aided in eliminating the class gap slightly in Europe. However, in the Netherlands, the class gap was still very severe.
Jan Steen created many pieces, but “The Dancing Couple”, housed in the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C, is one of his better works. Created in 1663, “The Dancing Couple” portrays a celebration between a couple and a group of friends and family. This work is rather large, measured at 3’ 4”x 4’8”. Steen uses oil paint on canvas in this work. This is a detailed work with a variety of different
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