barber institute of fine arts
university of birmingham


Jan Steen’s Old Testament Scenes


Jan Steen is one of the most engaging and brilliant artists of the 17th-century Dutch Golden Age. Best known for humourous, gently moralising scenes of everyday life, he also produced some 70 remarkable paintings narrating scenes from the Bible and classical mythology and history.

This innovative exhibition puts into context the Barber’s own Steen masterpiece, The Wrath of Ahasuerus, and features important paintings, drawings and prints lent by collections in the UK, Europe and the US. It explores the emerging Dutch nation’s links and associations with the Biblical Israelites, the connections of these paintings with contemporary Dutch theatre, and the Barber painting’s fascinating history.

Here’s what our visitors said…

‘Absolutely wonderful to see the exhibition realised!’- RvG, Utrech, NL, 27/10/2017

‘Utterly fascinating- a must see!’- P.G, Alderly Edge, 27/10/2017

‘Insightful and deeply curated exhibition. Refreshes my knowledge of Old Testament stories from childhood.’- O.K, Birmingham, 27/10/2017

‘Its good to see ‘The Wrath’ in context with other items relating to it. Very interesting talk/introduction.’- M.T, Coventry, 31/10/2017

‘Wonderful exhibition…Deserves more publicity.’- M. LM, Dorridge, 10/11/2017

The exhibition is accompanied by a full illustrated catalogue, available from the Barber Institute’s gift shop.

Header image: Jan Steen, Amnon and Tamar, 1661/70 © Wallraf-Richartz Museum, Cologne




Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec (1864-1901)

Le Divan Japonais


Paul Cézanne (1839 – 1906)

Guilaumin with the hanged man


Rubens, Peter Paul (1577-1640)

Portrait of Helena Fourment


Rodin, Auguste (1840 – 1917)

Bust of Victor-Henri, Marquis de Rochefort-Lucay