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At first sight, this painting appears to record a simple visit by the doctor to a sick woman. However, Steen undermines the motives of both protagonists. The doctor is shown making a gesture of mock humility as he accepts a glass of wine from a servant. It is also suggested that the patient is, in fact, lovesick rather than suffering from a physical ailment as her lover can be glimpsed outside the window in the background. This interpretation is further suggested by the subject matter of the painting partially visible in the right-hand corner which shows two lovers embracing. Jan Steen excelled in the rendering of textures as can be seen here in the satin of the maid's skirt. He was also renowned for the accuracy of the facial expressions of his figures through which he conveyed his domestic anecdotes.
The Doctor's Visit
oil on canvas on panel
H 69.5 x W 55.5 cm
bequeathed as part of the Torrie Collection, 1836