The Rommelpot: Interior with Three Figures

Jan Steen, 1626 - 1679

The Rommelpot: Interior with Three Figures

Jan Steen 1626 - 1679


The rommelpot, which appears in many 17th century Dutch genre paintings, was an earthenware pot with a bladder stretched over it. A thick piece of straw, pushed into the membrane and twirled, created a hollow, amusing sound. It was traditionally played on Shrove Tuesday. The lady holding the pipe to her lips looks seductively at the viewer, reinforcing the colloquial play on the Dutch verb pijpen, 'to pipe', also slang for sexual intercourse. The floppy hat with a spoon stuck through it, worn by the principal figure, was a familiar allusion to prodigality, while the man in the background raises his glass to the viewer, hinting at excess. The subject matter and the broad handling of the figures derive from Frans Hals. The painting was probably conceived as a light-hearted warning against worldly pleasure. Jan Steen, who was active in Leiden, Delft and Haarlem, is best known for painting genre scenes that carried a strong moral message. These mildly grotesque figures are likely to date from the early part of Steen's career, influenced perhaps by Adraien van Ostade.

Object Name

The Rommelpot: Interior with Three Figures

Creators Name

Jan Steen

Date Created



unframed: 32.8cm x 26.1cm
framed: 48.5cm x 41.5cm

accession number


Place of creation






On Display

[G14] Manchester Art Gallery - Gallery 14 - TEMPORARILY CLOSED
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Bequeathed by Mr and Mrs Assheton-Bennett.


© Manchester Art Gallery

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