The Fall of the Giants
Jacob Jordaens

Jacob Jordaens

1593 - 1678

Jacob (Jacques) Jordaens was a Flemish painter, draughtsman and a designer of tapestries and prints. He was a prolific artist who created biblical, mythological, and allegorical compositions, genre scenes, landscapes, illustrations of Flemish sayings and portraits. After the death of Rubens and Anthony van Dyck, he became the leading Flemish Baroque painter of his time. Unlike those illustrious contemporaries he never travelled abroad to study the Antique and Italian painting and, except for a few short trips to locations elsewhere in the Low Countries, he resided in Antwerp his entire life. He also remained largely indifferent to Rubens and van Dyck's intellectual and courtly aspirations. This attitude was expressed in his art through a lack of idealistic treatment which contrasted with that of these contemporaries.

His principal patrons were the wealthy bourgeoisie and local churches. Only late in his career did he receive royal commissions, including from King Charles I of England, Queen Christina of Sweden and the stadtholder class of the Dutch Republic. As well as being a successful painter, he was a prominent designer of tapestries and prints.

While he is today mostly identified with his large-scale genre scenes such as The King Drinks (also called the Feast of the Bean King) and As the Old Sing, So Pipe the Young, his contemporary reputation was based as much on his numerous mythological, allegorical and biblical scenes. Often regarded as a pupil and epigone of Rubens, he was never recorded as a member of Rubens' workshop. He regularly worked as an independent collaborator of Rubens. The principal influence of Rubens on his work is the use of the chiaroscuro technique which Rubens himself had mastered through his study of Caravaggio's paintings during his stay in Italy. His main artistic influences, besides Rubens, were northern Italian painters such as Jacopo Bassano, Paolo Veronese, and Caravaggio.

Even before he was admitted as a master in the Guild he had started working for the free market. In the early period of his career he had contact with the workshop of Rubens in Antwerp and produced many mythological and allegorical compositions as well as biblical scenes. In 1628, he was, together with Rubens and van Dyck, commissioned by the Augustine order to each paint an altar in the Augustine church in Antwerp. Rubens painted a Virgin and Child Adored by Saints for the high altar while van Dyck contributed a St. Augustine in Ecstasy for the altar on the left. Jordaens painted the Martyrdom of St. Apollonia for the altar on the right (still in situ). Jordaens' rendition of the martyrdom of St. Apollonia, who jumped into a fire rather than denounce her faith in the 3rd century, is crowded and dramatic. It was likely Rubens who had been able to secure this commission. That Jordaens was also invited to contribute to this project shows the high regard in which he was already held at that early period of his career.

Jordaens was one of the artists invited to work on the decorations for the Joyous Entry into Antwerp of the new governor of the Habsburg Netherlands Cardinal-Infante Ferdinand in 1635. Rubens was in overall charge of this project. For this event, Jordaens made decorative paintings after designs by Rubens. In collaboration with Cornelis de Vos he completed the triumphal arch of Philip that was erected in the Huidenvetterstraat. It was one of the principal decorative elements in Rubens's designs. It has not been preserved as it was solely intended as a temporary decoration for the Joyous Entry.

Rubens received in 1636 a commission from the Spanish king Philip IV of Spain to create various mythological paintings to decorate the Torre de la Parada, a hunting lodge of the king near Madrid. The mythological scenes depicted in the series were largely based on the Metamorphoses of Ovid. Rubens realized this important commission with the assistance of a large number of Antwerp painters such as David Teniers the Younger, Cornelis de Vos, Jan Cossiers, Peter Snayers, Thomas Willeboirts Bosschaert, Theodoor van Thulden, Jan Boeckhorst, Peeter Symons, Jacob Peter Gowy and others, who worked after Rubens' modellos. Jordaens also played his part in this collaborative effort. Two works in the series attributed to Jordaens are Apollo and Pan (1637), made after a sketch by Rubens, and Vertummus and Pomona (1638). Further contributions which he may have made are the Fall of the Titans, the Marriage of Peleus and Thetis, and Cadmus Sowing the Dragons Teeth.

Text courtesy of Wikipedia, 2024