In the exhibition Jan Steen’s Histories, the Mauritshuis exhibited a selection of Jan Steen’s finest history paintings. This seventeenth-century Dutch artist is best known as a painter of chaotic and disorderly scenes of everyday life, which gave rise to the popular Dutch proverb ‘a Jan Steen household’. But he also painted very different subjects: stories from the Bible, classical mythology and antiquity. The Mauritshuis shows – by means of twenty-one paintings – that Steen was a versatile and ambitious artist with a keen eye for amusing stories and anecdotes.
The design approach is based exactly on that multi-layered character of Steen’s work; we created a 3D book, inspired by ancient manuscripts, to emphasise the rich and detailed narratives and tongue-in-cheek undertones. Jan Steen’s masterpieces are surrounded by layers of delicate typographic items, each layer written in another tone of voice, from names and numbers to anecdotes, details and a gossip or two.
In cooperation with Studio Berry Slok (graphics) and Hans Wolf (lighting)
Photography by Ivo Hoekstra © Mauritshuis