Netherlands • 1593−1678
Jacob jordans (Jacob Jordaens; May 20, 1593, Antwerp - October 18, 1678, Antwerp) - Baroque painter, whose lively scenes from peasant life and sensual allegories made him one of the most important painters of the XVII century in Flanders.

Features creativity Jacob Jordaens. One of the old masters of long-livers was an important figure in Flemish painting. In the early works of Jordaens influenceAnthony van Dyck and classic style Peter Paul Rubenshowever, his painting technique and subjects were much more mundane than the latter. Since Jordaens did not travel to Italy following the example of his contemporaries, his work is essentially Flemish. This is expressed, for example, in exaggerated forms and coarse humor in a mannerPeter Brueghel the Elder ("The King Drinks" and "The Old Men Sing, The Young Men Play").

In the first half of his career, Jordaens' palette was warm and bright, the figures were distinguished by a strong build and a tendency to be overweight, the face was rosy and healthy. The peculiarities of his paintings are the contrast of light and shadow, their compositions overflowing with figures, and also the atmosphere of sensual vitality, which sometimes borders on uncorrespondence. In 1655, the artist turned to Protestantism, and in his paintings cooler colors began to dominate, and the themes were changed to moral ones.

Jordaens wrote in bold strokes and today is mainly associated with large-scale genre canvases. In addition, he was a popular portrait painter and creator of sketches for tapestries. Being a famous and prolific artist, he kept a workshop with many students who made versions of popular paintings by the master. Later, the work of the painter is uneven in quality, since an increasing part of the work was done by apprentices.

Famous paintings by Jacob Jordaens. "Self-portrait with family", "The old men sing, the young play", "Self-portrait with parents, brothers and sisters", "Prometheus chained to the rock", "The Bean King", "The King Drinks", "Four evangelists".

early years

Jacob Jordaens was baptized on May 20, 1593 in Antwerp. He was the first of eleven children of a wealthy trader in the painting of Jacob Jordaans the Elder and Barbara van Wolshat. Little is known about the artist’s childhood and youth, but it can be assumed that he received his usual education for middle-class children. This is confirmed by his clear hand, knowledge of the French language, ancient mythology and the Bible.

Teacher Jordaens - like his senior colleague Rubens - was a Flemish painter, engraver and draftsman Adam van noortwhose daughter the young artist married in 1615 In the same year - after eight years of study - Jordaens became the master watercolorist of the Antwerp painters' guild. Watercolor in the 17th century was often used to create preparatory color sketches for tapestries. And since this is a very delicate technique, few of them have survived to this day. In 1621, Jordaens was elected dean of the guild.


The first orders Jacob Jordaens received from local merchants and clergy, only later became his clients representatives of the nobility and rulers throughout Europe. As already mentioned, he did not make artistic pilgrimages to Italy, but studied the art of the Renaissance from engravings that were common in Northern Europe. So Fleming got acquainted with the works of Italian mannerists.Jacopo bassano and Paolo Veroneseand also notorious Caravaggio.

At the same time, Jordaens founded a large workshop and recruited many students, who from 1625 helped the master to complete his paintings. However, he himself helped Rubens to translate small sketches into larger-sized canvases. From his more famous colleague, Jordaens gained a warm palette, naturalism, tenebrizm and chyarokuro techniques.

Despite the fact that Jordaens continued to borrow plots and motifs from Rubens, his paintings from 1625 show more realism. He also had a tendency to overwhelm the composition with figures expressing different types and characters, and to bring scenes to a comic (burlesque) even in religious and mythological works, such as"Peter finds a coin in fish" (ca. 1623),"Allegory of Fertility" (c. 1622) or the Four Evangelists (c. 1625).

One of the best examples of the influence of Rubens called the picture "Prometheus chained", which Jordaens rethought around 1640th - three decades after his senior colleague. However, his version of the myth is more optimistic compared to Rubens.

After the death of Rubens in 1640, Jorans moved to the position of the leading artist of Antwerp. Having consolidated in this status, he began to receive orders from monarchs, and the heirs of Rubens offered him to finish"Perseus and Andromeda" for Philip IV Spanish.


Jacob Jordaens wrote in different genres - mainly historical (biblical, allegorical and mythological scenes) and portrait. His genre paintings, often based on Flemish proverbs or traditional rituals, were very popular. For the most part this is an image of a feast with a large number of participants, including animals - cows, horses, poultry, cats, dogs and sheep. Their artist, most likely, wrote from life.

The most striking example is the painting “The King Drinks”, reproduced in several versions. The scene depicts a group of people celebrating the Epiphany. According to tradition, on this day one person was appointed by the King, who was served by all the others. Jordaens used this custom to declare the harm of drinking. In the picture, he added the inscription "No one looks more insane than a drunkard."

Another similar picture that exists in several variations is “The old men sing, the young play”. This is an illustration of the proverb “Soo d'ouden songen, soo pepen de jongen” - “As the old people sing, so the young pipe plays. Most precisely, its meaning is conveyed by the Russian sayings “The apple does not fall far from the apple tree” and “The bad example is infectious.” All canvases depict noisy family feasts, where adults drink, eat and sing, and children accompany them with musical instruments. The moral is that the unworthy behavior of adults is transmitted to children.

Such moral subjects became more frequent in the work of Jordaens after his transition from Catholicism to Protestantism (Calvinism) in 1655. At the same time, his palette became colder, the brush more restrained, and the layers of paint so thin that sometimes you could see the canvas through them. Fortunately, these changes in style and theme were well in line with new artistic trends that came from France at that time.


Five years before his death, gout-suffering Rubens reassigned his sketches to Jordance to develop the scenery for the triumphal entry into Antwerp by Cardinal Infante Ferdinand, the new ruler of the Spanish Netherlands. In 1639 - 1640, Jordaens, on behalf of the English King Charles I, finished finishing Queens House in Greenwich, also following Rubens, who was unable to fulfill the order due to poor health. Unfortunately, this work has not been preserved.

Jordaens also participated in the decoration of the royal hunting house Torre de la Parada near Madrid. Many painters, including Cornelis de Vos and Peter snayers. Attributed to jordan"Apollo and Pan" (according to Rubens sketch) "Marriage Peleus and Thetis", "Vertumn and Pomona", and a few more remain above the question. In 1661, he was asked to paint three fairly large lunettes in the newly built Amsterdam Town Hall.

In 1652, the artist played a major role in the design of the royal country house Huis ten Bosch (“House in the Forest”) near The Hague. He wrote on the walls of the palace "The Triumph of Frederick Heinrich of Orange, the statesman of Holland" and "Victory of Time." These works became masterpieces of architectural decoration in which complex allegories are conveyed by bright colors and energetic whirl lines.

The skill of Jacob Jordaens was valued so highly that he continued to receive orders from Catholic monks even after his conversion to Protestantism.

The artist died in Antwerp in his 86th year of life from a mysterious “drying fever” or “sweat disease” (zweetziekte or polderkoorts in Dutch). That same day, his unmarried daughter Elizabeth, who lived with her father, died of this disease. They were buried under one headstone in a Protestant cemetery in the village of Putte.

Author: Vlad Maslov
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