In this painting, with its traditional German title „Die verkehrte Welt“ (“The Topsy-Turvy World”), Steen combines humorous narration with a moralising message: this house is ruled by a complete lack of restraint – the inscription on the slate tablet at the lower right laments this state of affairs with the first part of a Dutch saying “in weelde siet toe” (“Be careful in living the good life”, which continues: “and fear the rod”). A sword and a crutch hang threateningly in a basket suspended from the ceiling.
Overall: 105 cm × 145,5 cm
Framed: 135,5 cm × 177,5 cm × 12 cm
Inscribed on the barrel at lower left: JS (ligated) ... 16(63?)
Auf der Tafel rechts unten: In weelde Siet Toe (Im Wohlstand sehet euch vor); darunter: 000001 Soma -op
Kunsthistorisches Museum Wien, Gemäldegalerie
Auction Bertels, Brussels 1779, no. 40; 1780 Coll. Duke Carl v. Lorraine, Brussels; acquired in 1780
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