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Jacob Jordaens

See also: Baroque Art


Jacob Jordaens, Flemish painter. He was born in Antwerp and specialized in genre and banquet scenes, and religious paintings. He trained under Adam van Noort for eight years from 1607, marrying his daughter in 1616, the year he was admitted to the Antwerp Guild as a painter in tempera and watercolour. At this point, the greatest stylistic influence on his work was that of Caravaggio, notably in his use of strong contrasts of light and shade, and figures of an earthy realism (e.g. Satyr in the Peasant's House, after 1620, Paris, Louvre). In 1621 he became head of the Antwerp Guild and from about this time ran his own large and successful workshop, whilst at the same time working for Rubens, initially alongside van Dyck. When van Dyck left for Italy in 1622, Jordaens became Rubens' principal associate until the latter's death in 1640. The completion of a number of Rubens' most prestigious commissions (e.g. Hercules and Andromeda for Philip IV of Spain) was entrusted to him, and from now on he began to win for himself important work previously monopolized by Rubens (e.g. The Story of Psyche, for Charles I of England, destroyed; The Triumph of Frederick Hendrik, 1651 2, for the Huis ten Bosch, The Hague).

Rubens was undoubtedly the greatest influence on the work of Jordaens' mature period. As with Rubens, his female figures are amply fleshed, his male figures robust and powerful looking, and yet he retains the early influence of Caravaggio in the somewhat coarser physical types he chooses and the stronger contrasts of light and shade which are so characteristic of much of his work (e.g. Christ driving the Merchants from the Temple, c1650, Paris, Louvre). Despite becoming a Calvinist in about 1655, he continued to work for Catholic clients, although his conversion seems to have imparted a certain restraint to his later work.

- From The Bulfinch Guide to Art History

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c. 1620-21 Satyr and Peasant

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