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"The old men sing, the young play"

Jacob Jordaens • Painting, 1638, 128×192 cm
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About the artwork
Art form: Painting
Subject and objects: Genre scene
Style of art: Baroque
Technique: Oil
Materials: Canvas
Date of creation: 1638
Size: 128×192 cm
Artwork in selections: 6 selections
Exhibitions history
Jacob jordans
October 3, 2020 − February 21, 2021
Museum Frans Hals, Groot Heiligland, 62

Description of the artwork «"The old men sing, the young play"»

"The old men sing, young and play" (“As old people sing, so the young pipe plays”) - a literal translation of the Dutch proverb “Soo d'ouden songen, soo pepen de jongen”. 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.”

At first glance, Jacob Jordaens very literally portrayed the proverb in his picture. Three generations of the family are playing under the control of his grandfather. A boy of six or seven at the table years old plays the recorder, and the baby on his mother's lap echoes him on a small flute. Behind the woman's back is her husband, who plays the bagpipes, puffing up her cheeks. Right grandmother performs a song from the sheet. For greater clarity, the artist traced a proverb above the heads of his characters.

It seems to be an ordinary family scene. However, a knowledgeable viewer will understand the double meaning of Jordaens' message. For example, bagpipe was a lower grade instrument and usually caused negative associations. And mother's feathered hat indicates her frivolous nature, since feathers in the 17th century were associated with vanity and vanity. Such adults can not serve as a good example for offspring, but children diligently echo them on their trumpets.

Jacob Jordaens painted in 1638. About 30 years later, Jan Sten decided to illustrate the same proverb. Forhis picture borrowed from the Flemish predecessor the idea of three generations and some details, for example, a mother with a child in her arms, a bagpiper and a singing grandmother with pince-nez on the nose. Most likely, the Dutchman saw an engraving on the picture of Jordaens. However, if the Flemish characters around the table still look decent, then Wall has a clearly dissolute family.

Author: Vlad Maslov
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