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The Cover
November 23/30, 2005

As the Old Ones Sing, So the Young Ones Pipe

Author Affiliations

The Cover Section Editor: M. Therese Southgate, MD, Senior Contributing Editor.

JAMA. 2005;294(20):2544. doi:10.1001/jama.294.20.2544

Believed to have been painted sometime after 1670 but before 1675, As the Old Ones Sing, So the Young Ones Pipe (cover ) takes its title from one of the numerous proverbs so loved and so prominently displayed by the Dutch in their newly formed republic. The work portrays a warm, happy, festive time, one for feasting by the entire family. But now the meal has ended, the guests are sated, and the freely flowing drink is having its effect. It is time for the chairs to be pushed back, the songsheets distributed, and the musical instruments brought forth. The old ones sing, the young ones pipe, or, as a genial Dutch host might say, “Soo voor gesongen, soo na gepepen.” The host in this case is also the Leiden painter Jan Steen (1626-1679), known for boisterous family scenes such as these, as well as for paintings of village fairs, children at play, and doctors making house calls on lovesick women.

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