Artworks
Twelfth Night

Contributor

For those of you who don’t know what Twelfth Night is, it’s a Shakespeare play.

But this painting has nothing to do with that. Apparently Twelfth Night is also a Christian holiday that’s supposed to mark the coming of Three Kings Day, which is a feast day to commemorate when Gold told Jesus “Luke, I am your father.”

A Twelfth Night tradition is to bake a cake with a bean inside, and whoever finds the bean wins and gets to be king, which is what that kid in the paper crown is. He is king. And that’s why that woman dressed like a nun is giving a tiny bitty child some alcohol--no one dares dispute the king’s order. Such good adulting.

That’s also why the (probably drunk) man is behaving like an idiot. The teeny little child declared him court jester, and so he is jesting. He has to spend the whole night making a baby laugh.

Most everyone else is playing servant to the baby. I’ve seen a couple of Jan Steen Households in my day, but this is by far the Jan-Steen-Householdiest of them all.

Speaking of Jan Steen, he’s the one playing the violin.

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Here is what Wikipedia says about The Bean Feast

The Bean Feast is a c.1668 painting of a bean-feast by Jan Steen, now in the Gemäldegalerie Alte Meister (Kassel).

Sources

  • (in German) Museum:„Gemäldegalerie Alte Meister Schloss Wilhelmshöhe“: Georg Westermann Verlag. Braunschweig, 2. Auflage 1982 ISSN 0341-8634


Check out the full Wikipedia article about The Bean Feast.