In many countries around the world today, children celebrate the Feast of St. Nicholas. Children in the Netherlands set their shoes out the night before, on December 5, and wake up on December 6 to shoes filled with toys and goodies. "The Feast of St. Nicholas" by Jan Steen, a 17th century Dutch painter, depicts the morning of St. Nicholas' feast in a traditional Dutch household.
1. "The Feast of St. Nicholas" is only one of at least six scenes that Jan Steen painted of St. Nicholas' feast day. This one is almost 3 feet high and just over 2 feet wide.
2. Steen was born into a strong Catholic family that ran a tavern, The Red Halbert. When Steen was about 28, he ran his own brewery, De Roscam (The Curry Comb), but with little success.
3. After moving into the household of landscape painter Jan van Goyen, Steen married van Goyen's daughter, Margriet. The two had 8 children together. Steen later had a ninth child with a second wife, Maria van Egmont, after Margriet died.
4. Steen was quite prolific, creating approximately 800 paintings during his lifetime. Roughly 350 of those paintings survive today.
5. Unlike some artists, Steen was reasonably well-paid and his work was valued by his contemporaries, yet he never had any official students.
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