National Gallery of Canada / Musée des beaux-arts du Canada

Bulletin 13, 1969

Annual Index
Author & Subject

Reflections on the Jordaens Exhibition

by Michael Jaffe

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Items Exhibited

2 The illustration was printed incorrectly on its side. The edge which appears to the right in the catalogue should have been on top. The group of DEMOCRITUS AND HERACLITUS in the De Casa Torres painting differs considerably from that in the Metropolitan Museum painting. The former is illustrated by A. Blankert, "Heraclitus en Democritus," Nederlands Kunsthistorisches jaarboek, 1967, p. 76, Afb. 27 (No. 54), as is also a comparatively insignificant variant, Afb. 26 (No. 53a), of the two-figure group in New York, belonging to the Herzog Anton-Ulrich Museum.

3 The view of d'Hulst (8) that the wine-cooler and drinking-bottles were later additions by Jordaens was seen to be untenable, the facture of the painting being all of a piece. Pentimenti reveal hesitations and changes at the time: the fingers of the painter's own left hand are painted over his father's brown fur collar; and Marie's green sleeve is evident below the white tablecloth, showing that the idea of introducing the table came at the last stage.

6 The grimacing man, in the golden-brown coat at the right, is conceived in the tradition of Pieter Bruegel the Elder, anticipating comparable studies of expression in Brouwer. This tangential relationship between Jordaens and Brouwer merits more investigation [cf. Nos. 198, 199]. The closeness of Liss to Jordaens at this period, even in chalk drawings (as was first remarked by R. Oldenbourg in his all too brief monograph on Liss), also needs further emphasis. For example, the drawing in black chalk, touched with white chalk, on blue paper (297 x 197 mm., 11 1/16 x 7 3/4 in.), which was sold as Jordaens at Sotheby's, London, 13 May 1964, lot 84, and bought by "Goyen," was sold again by A. Brod to the Rijksprentenkabinet, Amsterdam, where it was correctly identified by Dr. K. G. Boon as a study by Liss for the woman's head in his treatment of this favourite Jordaens subject, "The Satyr and the Peasant" (versions by Liss in the National Gallery of Art, Washington, and in Berlin).

10 The accension Number should read: 67.187.76.

11 Attention might have been called to the Caravaggism, familiar to Jordaens also through Rubens, of showing the soles of the shepherd lad's feet ostentatiously dirty .This dustiness of those who tread the earth barefoot is emphasized again in No. 45, c. 1630, and even ten years later than that, more discreetly, in No. 69.

12 The head of the negro, and the rather similar head in the Huis Osterrieth MARSYAS FLAYED BY APOLLO (d'Hulst 1961, fig. 3), also c. 1617, are expressive, almost caricatural comments on profounder studies of a negro's head by Rubens such as one the Hyde Col lection possesses (Goris-Held, no. 30, pl. F). Four such studies were copied on one panel by Van Dyck (KdK [van Dyck], 14), and on another, in a much less imaginative and coherent arrangement, by a rival copyist, who may well have been Jordaens. See under Nos. 26, 27 below.

13 H. K. Gerson, "Jordaens at Ottawa," Art News, LXVII, December 1968, p. 38, called attention to another small painting of this composition (exhibited Weltkunst aus Privatbesitz, Cologne, Kunsthalle, 1968, No. F16, sold Sotheby's, 25 November 1970, lot 96; oil on oak panel, 55.5 x 92.5 cm., 217/8 x 36'1 (6 in.). Gerson proposed this as a modello for the Brunswick painting, which is virtually the same size (canvas, 63 x 88 cm, 24 13/16 x 34 5/8 in.). (9) This other version is only known to me in a photograph; and so I reserve my opinion. Whatever its status, there is no necessity to impugn the autograph quality of the Brunswick painting.

15 W. Stechow, Rubens and the Classical Tradition, Cambridge (Mass.), 1968, p. 48, calls attention to "the popular quotation from Terence's Eunuch: (IV, 732) 'Sine Cerere et Libero friget Venus."' (10) Attention should have been called also to the extremely close similarities in the handling of the figures (including the goat) and the composition and the handling of the NYMPHS AND SATYRS, formerly in the Museum at Oldenburg (d'Hulst 1956, p. 48, fig. 15).

21 This panel is illustrated in the catalogue, and had to be exhibited, with the unhappy additions (top, 13 cm., 5 1/8 in.; right, 10.5 cm., 4 1/8 in,; and bottom, 10.5 cm. 4 1/8 in.), which are faintly visible in reproduction.. (11) These were dictated perhaps by some eighteenth-century collector's admiration for Ribera. The dimensions of the original panel, 64 x 47 cm., 25 3/16 x 18 1/2 in., match it to those used for Nos. 19 and 20. The extension of it was obtained by set ting it into a single piece of wood cut to shape. Dr. Nathan Stolow kindly confirmed the nature of this post-Jordaens extension.

23 A preparatory drawing by Jordaens for this composition, hitherto unpublished, is in a private collection in London (figo 2). ProVenance: Ho R. Knipe (19th century); Lord Nathan of Churt sale, London (Sotheby's), 21 May 1963, lot 150, bought E. Lucie-Smith. In style this comes close to Nos. 140 and 141; but a stable, rather than an outdoor scene, is envisaged. The Cow drawn in foreshortening from the rear (not included in the painting) resembles the beast at the left of the Witt OFFERING TO CERES [No. 141]. A horse and a dog are inserted in the Mainz painting; and the three shepherds standing behind the Madonna are omitted. The horse is similar, in reverse, to the animal in that Witt drawing. Michel Le Moël and Pierre Rosenberg, Revue de l'art, VI, 1969, pp. 58-59, point out that the provenance supplied by the Mainz Museum belongs to the Grenoble altarpiece [No. 11], and put forward a suggestion made to them by M. Jacques Foucart, that the Mainz painting may correspond with one of similar dimensions, and the same number of figures, also an open-air scene by sunlight, which was in the Duc de Saint-Aignan sale, Paris, 17 June 1776, lot 15, bought Louis XV. The ricordo drawn by Gabriel de Saint-Aubin in his copy of the sale catalogue, however, appears to omit the mule's head and to differ in other, minor particulars. M. Foucart's plausible identification is not quite conclusive; but I am grateful to him for calling it to my attention. The painting is more concentrated, with fewer figures than this drawing; and the scene is brought out of doors. (12)

25. J. Sìp and o. J. Blazicek, 17th Century Flemish Painting, London, 1963, plates 50 and 51, illustrate the Prague study in colour.

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