Exposition"Walls and Jordaens: How Old Men Sing ..." - part of the project "Neighbors", which the Royal Mauritshuis Gallery in The Hague conducts together with the Royal Museum of Fine Arts in Antwerp. Curators decided to compare how the Dutchman Jan Sten and his Flemish predecessor, Jacob Jordaens, illustrated the same proverb "Soo d'ouden songen, soo pepen de jongen" - "How the old folks sing, so the young pipe plays." Most accurately its meaning is conveyed by Russian sayings "Apple from the apple tree is not far away" and "A bad example is contagious."
Jordans painted his scene in 1638, and Stan - almost three decades later. Obviously, he saw an engraving from his older colleague's picture, as he borrowed the idea of three generations, as well as some details: a mother with a child in her arms, a piper and singing a grandmother with a pince-nez on her nose. And if the first characters around the table still look decent, then the second family is clearly dissolute.
Both artists convey the idea that bad actions of adults can not serve as a good example for offspring, but children diligently echo them on their pipes. For greater clarity, Jordans drew a proverb over the heads of his characters, and Stan - on a sheet that is kept in the hand of a grandmother.
In both paintings an additional character is a dog. But if Yordans dog, pricked up ears, listens attentively to the singing of the family, but the meaning of the animal on the canvas of Jan Wall is not fully understood. His attention is focused not on people, but on something outside the scene.