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Jan Steen

Dutch, 1626–1679

As the Old Sing, So Twitter the Young,
ca. 1668–1670
Oil on canvas
Acquired in 1913 with the support of the Rembrandt Society (inv. no. 742)

Jan Steen's lively scene of an immoral household conveys a serious message in a humorous way. As the Old Sing, So Twitter the Young is a satirical jab at the potential effects of irresponsible parenting.


  • The title of the painting: found on the grandmother's paper and comes from an Old Dutch saying, meaning that children will mimic the actions of their parents.
  • The parrot is symbolic; children "parrot" what their parents do.
  • The overtly lazy behavior of the adults: be aware of your influence.
  • The artist: Jan Steen has portrayed himself as the father teaching his son how to smoke a pipe.