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The Interior of an Inn ('The Broken Eggs')

Photo credit: The National Gallery, London

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A young lad dips his finger into something delicious in the background of this raucous picture – probably something forbidden, since he hides what he’s doing. The actions and expressions of the men also imply the tasting of forbidden fruits denied them by the young woman. She shoves away the hand of the laughing man who lifts her skirt, while the figure in the red cap tamps tobacco into his pipe with a suggestive finger. Another man sniffs appreciatively at an open wine jug while gazing at the woman. Steen has sprinkled this comic moral tale with symbols: the handle of the frying pan, a phallic symbol, pointing towards the three men; the mussels, a well-known aphrodisiac; the broken eggs, usually a sign of loss of virtue but in this case possibly representing the men’s ambitions towards the woman.

The National Gallery, London



The Interior of an Inn ('The Broken Eggs')


about 1665-70


Oil on canvas


H 43.3 x W 38.1 cm

Accession number


Acquisition method

Bequeathed by Sir Otto Beit, 1941

Work type



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Normally on display at

The National Gallery, London

Trafalgar Square, London, Greater London WC2N 5DN England

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