Jordaens, a Flemish artist, was born in 1593 into the family of an Antwerp
linen merchant. He was the pupil of Adam van Noort (since 1607), under
whom Rubens had studied briefly.
Later Jordaens married van Noort’s daughter, Catharina. In 1615, he joined
the St. Lukas Guild and, in 1621, became its deacon.
Jordaens painted religious, mythological, historical subjects, portraits
and genre scenes, and big monumental decorations. In his early period,
marked by the influence of Caravaggio,
the night scenes with candle and moon light prevail. The young master’s
individuality was revealed on big-scaled compositions, where several full-length
figures fill all the surface of the picture, which lack depth. This method
did not change during his working life. Maybe it was the result of his
work on wall-hangings, which he designed and painted on linen and which
his father sold.
Jordaens did not visit Italy and never tried to imitate the Italian style.
Jordaens' optimistic disposition makes him close to Rubens, in whose workshop
he was employed several times. Jordaens adopted Rubens’ style, making it
his own, but Jordaens lacks Rubens’ inexhaustible fantasy. Even religious
and mythological subjects are interpreted by him in a genre manner, his
characters are painted from nature and they are taken from everyday life.
Sometimes Jordaens’ paintings seem overloaded with massive figures, e.g.
The talent of Jordaens revealed itself in genre painting;
the artist took subjects from folklore – fables, proverbs, and tales. The
museums of Moscow, Kassel, Budapest, Munich, Brussels have the variants
of the painting The Satyr and the Farmer’s Family, painted
on the plot of a fable. The Satyr is surprised by people’s hypocrisy: first
a peasant blows on his hands to make them warm and then blows on his plate
to make his porridge cold. The satyr, feeling he is being made a fool of,
jumps up. Jordaens liked to paint burghers’ families especially during
feasts, the subject of ‘The Bean King”
(or feast of epiphany, celebrated on the day of adoration of the magi),
is repeated by the artist several times. The scene is full of vitality,
and rough humour. In 1634, under the supervision of Rubens, Jordaens, along
with some other painters, worked on a big commission from the Antwerp magistrate:
the decorations for Prince Ferdinand’s visit to the city.
After Rubens’ death, Jordaens became the leader of the Antwerp school,
carrying out innumerable commissions for Church and Court between 1640
and 1650, including 22 pictures for the salon on Queen Henrietta Maria
at Greenwich, work for the Scandinavia and French courts.
In 1650, the artist adopted Calvinism, but continued to receive commissions
from the Catholic Church. The masters of his workshop play more and more
important role in fulfilling grandiose and pompous decorative works, and
Jordaens himself gradually looses his originality. The artist died in 1678
Jacob Jordaens was one of the great Flemish Baroque painters along with
Rubens and van Dyck.
Jordaens. by S. Morozova. Moscow. 1974.
Painting of Western Europe. XVII century. by E. Rotenberg. Moscow.
Painting of Europe. XIII-XX centuries. Encyclopedic Dictionary.
Moscow. Iskusstvo. 1999.