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Daily Life

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The Pancake Woman

ca. 1661-1669
26 1/4 x 20 7/16 in. (66.7 x 51.9 cm)

Jan Steen
Netherlands (1626 - 1679)

Object Type: Painting
Medium and Support: Oil on canvas
Credit Line: Bertha Buswell Bequest
Accession Number: 1955.71
Location: Currently on view
Link to this object
Collection: Buswell-Hochstetter Collection

Pancake vendors, much like outdoor food vendors today, were a common sight on Dutch streets during the 1600s. Originally a delicacy prepared on the festival day of Shrove Tuesday, the last day of Carnival and the day before the beginning of Lent, pancakes were associated with feasting and wild behavior. Images of pancake makers were initially moralistic in nature, symbolizing gluttony and lust. By the 17th century, pancakes were eaten every day and the theme lost some of its allegorical significance. The scene retained its popularity among painters and printmakers of “low-life” genre scenes, or scenes of everyday peasant and street life.

[Gallery label text]

Steen was a prolific artist who specialized in low-life genre scenes, such as the popular subject of the pancake maker. A delicacy prepared especially on Vastenavond, or Shrove Tuesday, which was the last day of Carnival, the pancake had become associated with feasting and riotous behavior. It was therefore identified with overindulgence and became a symbol of gluttony or lust. During the seventeenth century, however, pancakes began to be enjoyed at any time, which reduced the allegorical potency of the theme.

[Gallery label text]

Said to be signed at lower right edge with monogram, now visible only under IR

Joseph Neeld (1789-1856), Wiltshire, England, by 1854; by descent to Sir Audley Neeld (d. 1941), Wiltshire, England; Jacques Goudstikker (1897-1940), Amsterdam, by 1919; Willibald Duschnitz (1884-1976), Vienna, by 1920; purchased from him in 1934 by Bertha Hochstetter Buswell (Mrs. Henry Buswell), Buffalo, NY; her bequest to the Gallery, 1941; lifetime interest held by her brother, Ralph Hochstetter, Buffalo, NY, until his death in 1955, when it passed to the Gallery

Keywords Click a term to view the records with the same keyword
genre scenes
scenes of everyday life
jobs & work
depictions of working, also professions as subcategories

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