The pictures of Jan Steen usually represent merry-makings, and the frolics and festivities of the ale-house, which he treated with a characteristic expression of humorous drollery, that compensated for the vulgarity of his subjects. He sometimes painted interiors, domestic assemblies, conversations, mountebanks, etc., which he generally accompanied with some facetious trait of wit or humor, admirably rendered. Some of his works of this description are little inferior to the charming productions of Gabriel Metzu. His compositions are ingenious and interesting, his design is correct and spirited, his coloring chaste and clear, and his pencil free and decided. He also had a good knowledge of the chiaro-scuro, which enabled him to give his figures a fine relief. His works are invariably finished with care and diligence, and do not betray any haste or infirmity of hand or head. It is evident that, from some untoward circumstance, his works were not appreciated in his day, but after his death they rose amazingly in value, and have continued to increase ever since,—a true test of a master's merit—till now they are scarcely to be found except in royal and noble collections and the public galleries of Europe. His pictures were, for a long time, scarcely known out of Holland, but now they are deservedly placed in the choicest collections. His works are very numerous, sufficient to have continually occupied the life time of not only a sober and industrious artist, but one possessing great facility of hand. Smith, in his Catalogue raisonné, vol. iv. and Supplement, gives a descriptive account of upwards of 300 genuine pictures by Steen, many of them compositions of numerous figures, and almost all of them executed with the greatest care. It cannot be believed that a man living in a state of continued dissipation and inebriety, could find time to produce so many admirable works, displaying, as they do, a deep study of human nature, and a great discrimination of character, or that the hand of a habitual drunkard could operate with such beauty and precision. Nor is it probable that a mind besotted by drink, and debased by low intercourse, could moralize so admirably as he has done on the evil consequences of intemperance and the indulgence of evil passions.