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

131 Since the exhibition, Mr. John Brealey has completed the cleaning and the slight restoration necessary of M. Franz Muheim's superb modello for an ADORATION OF THE SHEPHERDS (fig. II), a night piece revealed now as one of the most inventive and moving of all Rubens's sketches on religious themes. It had been partially over-painted, particularly at the right in order to mask the trimming from the panel (as fig. 10 here shows by comparison with the H. Witdoeck engraving [fig. IX]) of the bearded old man, of an but the head of the old woman, and of the archway through which they enter the stable. The provenance of the modello in the Muheim family can be traced since Henri-Frédéric, Comte de Diesbach-Torny (1818-67). Probably it had been acquired by François-Pierre-Frédéric, Comte de Diesbach-Torny (1739-1811), during the period 1755-65 when he was Louis XV's Ambassadorat The Hague. Rooses 1886-92, No. 152, records engravings by H. Witdoeck, S. à Bolswert, Ragot. Laurie in connection with a "Tableau inconnu. Composition en largeur." Smith, No. 117, records only the Bolswert engraving of this composition. There is no satisfactory evidence that Rubens undertook any larger scale version of this composition. Its special appeal for Jordaens may have been due to its redolence of Elsheimer.

131 / 132 Fine vertical breaks in these drawings, showing spared paper, indicate that leaves removed from sketch-books have been used. The Witdoeck engraving [see No. 131, line 3] is illustrated [fig. IX].

132 For Jo S. Spengler read J. Co Spengler. The surface is worn; but the quality of invention and execution is pure Jordaens. (28)

133 Mr. Garff has kindly given me his opinion that the digits and lines drawn in pen are most likely to be explained as the work of Wrn. Panneels. 

140 This drawing could not be exhibited. The Orléans Museum eventually decided against detaching it from the nineteenth-century album in which it is still kept.

141 The stimulus to undertake this hitherto extremely rare subject, and in this upright form of composition, may well have come to Jordaens from his knowledge of the large sheet engraved in 1596 by J. Saenredam after Goltzius (Hollstein) 355), showing Ceres with a cornucopia, and dressed voluminously in silks, standing to receive the homage of her rustic worshippers. There should have been a cross-reference to the almost literal reappearance of the kneeling woman, with the child on her lap, in the Kassel MOSES STRIKING WATER FROM THE ROCK [No. 115].

142 The irregular repair along the bottom edge is likely to be the work of a collector. The edge of the paper used by Jordaens for his drawing is quite distinctly cut. Not illustrated in the catalogue (see Editor's Note to the catalogue entry).

145 The painting, referred to in Brussels 1965, now belongs to Herr Heinz Kisters, Kreuzlingen. It is illustrated here for the first time (fig. 12), by his permission. This masterpiece of the late 1650s was discovered in 1932 by the Munich painter, Adolf Klingstirn. It has no connection with the Ghent drawing [fig. XIII]; although there are recollections, in the configuration of the crowd, of the early masterpiece on this theme, formerly with Agnew [fig. XII] and recently acquired by the Cleveland Museum of Art, as well as some nearer ones of CHRIST DRIVING THE MONEY-CHANGERS FROM THE TEMPLE [No. 112]. The iconography of the scene in this late treatment is highly idiosyncratic: Christ in noble isolation towers over a tumbled confusion of figures, half of whom display as much nudity as possible, almost as though He were visiting limbo. Only St. Peter, Malchus, and four others (one being in armour) have their torsos covered.

146 After the exhibition it was possible to study and photograph the text of the draft letter on the back of which Jordaens drew. Scarcely any of his holographs have been identified; and it would be of notable value could this script be established as his own. However, the way of writing "g", "v", and "s", for example, differs too markedly from that in the quittance written by Jordaens to the Burgomaster of Rupelmonde, dated 14 October 1642, for any such certainty, even allowing for a time difference of about a quarter of a century. And we still know nothing of any call for Jordaens to use what French he might have had. Nevertheless, a slightly more accurate transcription can now be published:

Monsr, L'excuse que vous vules pren(dre) / celle que m'escrives destre, par M. de C (...) / delle sans me payer n'est pas reccu / Est ( ?) Aussy au Temps que nous sommes.../ ne paye pas de parolle Ce que med (...) / n'estoyt pas de si grande Importance qu(e) / ne me le pourest payer avandt que p ( ...) / vous en ay fait recompancer par mes gens.../ jour mesme avandt vostre partement / et encore d'autre foys au paravandt qu.../ m'en a de rien servy pour ce que je ca.../

The opportunity to lift the drawing from the mount
revealed a foolscap watermark.

147 Add PROV. Prince Charles de Ligne (Vienna 1759-92)
Sale, Vienna (Blumauer), 4 November 1794.

to LIT.: A. Bartsch, Cat. raisonné des desseins originaux ...du cabinet de feu le Prince Charles de Ligne, Vienna, 1794, pp. 268-269, No. 7 (Jordaens).

It is noteworthy that Bartsch, in praising this superb drawing, treats the subject as pure genre. See comment under No. 158 below.

149 Reference should have been made to the comparative illustration of the Dresden painting [fig. X].

150 The technique of this drawing suggests that Jordaens had direct knowledge of Titian drawings in this medium, most likely in Rubens's collection. The marvellously luminous modelling in the shadows is especially noteworthy.

151 The sheet has evidently been cropped, and the cropping is especially vexatious at top and bottom. It was evidently drawn by the same hand and at the same time as No. 150. (29) It shows the same rhythms, the same power of modelling within shadows, the same sense of form. Mr. E. Croft-Murray kindly confirms that the inscription Jordaens is probably early eighteenth century.

Next Page | Items Exhibited 158 to 200 

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