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

26 / 27 The manner in which the heads in these two studies are disposed, in lateral patterns rather than organic groups, may give a clue to the authorship of the FOUR NEGRO HEADS at Knowsley, variously attributed to Rubens and Van Dyck (see Thos. Agnew, London, Van Dyck: a loan exhibition, Nov.-Dec. 1968, No. 10, repr. on cover). On this small panel the heads are studied on the same scale as No. 27; and the externalization of form, the patterning of the inner structure of ears and the forms of cheeks and jowls, the incandescent lighting or emphatic shading of silhouettes-all speak for Jordaens. See also under No. 12 above.

31 Doubted by Held, but still supported by me. (13)

33 Another version of this composition, painted on panel and apparently corresponding in its principal features with the San Francisco picture (except for a different inclination of the angel's head), has recently been revealed by radiography of the Cherbourg Museum ADORATION OF THE MAGI while that painting was being restored at the Louvre. (14) Madame Hours believes this otherwise inaccessible version to be of autograph quality. This could be so, without impugning the status of the San Francisco picture, which is certainly autograph.

34 Another version was exhibited in Weltkunst aus Privatbesitz, Cologne, Kunsthalle, 1968 (FI8, Abb. 9, oil on canvas, 87 x 77 cm., 34 1/4 x 30 5/16 in.), as the original by Jordaens from which the Thyssen version was stated to have been copied. This previously unpublished version, belonging to August von Joestsen., Weiseling bei Bonn, is unfortunately known to me only in the catalogue reproduction. It is admitted to have been cut down on all sides. Even if its quality justifies its being exhibited as autograph, the Thyssen painting is not thereby demoted to a Copy (cf: the situation described under No. 33 above for the San Francisco and Cherbourg paintings). Dr. Hella Robels dates the Joest version and No. 33 to c. 1618 by identifying the model for the Christ Child as Elizabeth Jordaens. The attribution of the Thyssen version to Jordaens himself, c. 1620, is sustained by J. C. Ebbinge Wubbe in the 1969 catalogue of the Thyssen colIection (No. 210).

36 Add to LIT.: Engraved by James Fittler (1758-1835), as Rubens (SPANISH OFFICER), VS, p. 190, No. 303 ; A. L. Mayer, Burl M, April 1398, p. 190 (as Jan Cossiers).

Mayer appears to have based his opinion on the sitter's Spanish appearance. Attribution of painted portraits to Cossiers remains hazardous in our present state of knowledge. The secure record of his portrait style (other than five chalk drawings, of himself and of his four sons) is limited to an engraving by Conrad Lauwers of Father Anton Vigier, S. J. (aet. 94), hardly a fair comparison. The only other seventeenth-century notices known to me are of a portrait of the Abbot of Tongerloo (l5) and of two portraits commissioned by Peiresc, one of GEV ARTIUS, which was finished after two years' work in April 1628, (16) and one of PUTEANUS, finished by February 1629. (17) Any attributions of Nos. 36 and 37 to Cossiers, however, are excluded by the signature at the lower right of No. 36, indistinct though it is, which cannot be read 'Jo. C", let alone "J. Cos. f. F.", and by stylistic comparisons with Louvre 1952 E, a painting of THREE FASHIONABLY DRESSED YOUNG MEN. which is signed by Cossiers and dated 1626. (18) No. 36 has been acquired by the National Gallery of Art, Washington, as a Jordaens.

38 Comparison with a Madonna and Child group on this scale can also be found in a painting c. 1618 belonging to the State Hermitage Museum, Leningrad (No. 2041, acquired from the Crozat collection, Paris, 1772). Although this was classified in the 1916 catalogue as "Jordaens (?)," and in the 1958 catalogue as "School of Jordaens," the figures were painted by Jordaens himself against a crimson background, after the flower garland had been painted by Andries Daniels against a grey background. I called the attention of Madame Varshavskaya in 1959 to the autograph handling by Jordaens himself of his part in this painting.

41 The exhibition demonstrated that both Nos. 41 and 43 are by Jordaens. (19)

42 The support of this marvellously luminous study, contrary to the physical data supplied by the Staats-galerie for the exhibition catalogue, (20) is paper, cut irregularly and mounted on canvas. The canvas makes up the background area only, in a horizontal strip at the top, and in an irregular section at the left.

43 Description of the technical means, exactly those of No. 41, should have included "pen and ink."

47 Add to PROV.: Schamp d'Aveschoot sale, Ghent, 1840,
No. 115. Under LIT. far Unpublished read Rooses 1886-92, IV, pp. 266-267 (as Rubens). The attribution to Jordaens was first made by me in 1964. (21)

51 A pentimento should have been noted, showing that the cloak, beard and profile of the right-hand study were originally crowded farther to the left.

52 Sold, London (Sotheby's), 25 June 1969, NO. 106*, bought "Simons", recently acquired by the University of Kansas Museum of Art.

55 Inventory numbers painted on the canvas should have been noted: 2325, lower left, buff paint; 232, lower right, white paint.

60 F. Basan, Cat. des Estampes Gravées d'après P. P. Rubens, Paris, 1767, p. 157, No. 94*, describes the Exshaw mezzotint.

61 Elizabeth Jordaens is portrayed holding what appears to be a Renaissance jewel rather than a medal: an "antique" bust in a frame set with pearls and diamonds. 

62 A pentimento shows that the embrasure was originally conceived as a plain square.

67 Sold, London (Sotheby's), 26 March 1969, No. 89, bought by Agnew for the National Gallery of Canada.

72 Because of criticism in Held's review, I requested Dr. R. Heinemann to re-examine this portrait at Lugano. He has written (2 July 1969) that he can find no evidence of any change to the date (1641). (22)

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