Jacob Jordaens

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Jordaens, Jacob

Jordaens, Jacob or Jacques (yäˈkôp yôrˈdäns, zhäk), 1593–1678, Flemish baroque painter, b. Antwerp. After the deaths of Rubens and Van Dyck, by whom he was influenced, he became the leading Flemish painter of his day and worked in Antwerp nearly all his life. Like Rubens, Jordaens produced portraits and religious and allegorical paintings, often expressing a joy of life. In early works (c.1612–25), such as The Artist's Family (Hermitage, St. Petersburg) and Allegory of Fertility (Brussels), he reveals the influence of Caravaggio in his firm modeling and realistically treated surface. Works executed c.1625–35 show increased grandeur and richness (Triumph of Bacchus; Kassel), and in the next years Rubens and Van Dyck influences are especially clear. In the last 25 years of his life, Jordaens stressed increasingly the classicist elements in baroque art, moving from the energetic Triumph of Prince Frederik Hendrik of Orange (The Hague) to the more rigidly composed Christ and the Doctors (Mainz). Examples of his work may be seen in many of the major museums of Europe and the United States.
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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Jordaens, Jacob


Born May 19, 1593, in Antwerp; died there Oct. 18, 1678. Flemish painter.

Jordaens, the son of a cloth merchant, began his artistic training under A. van Noort in 1607. He organized a large studio, where his many commissioned works were executed. Jordaens’ work, which is noted for its keen sensory perception of life, its powerful brushwork, and its inexhaustible optimism, strongly reflects folk elements and the realist tendencies characteristic of the Flemish school of art. Early Dutch traditions and elements of Carravagism are also evident. In his early paintings, such as Family Portrait (c. 1615, Hermitage, Leningrad) and The Adorationof the Shepherds (1618, National Museum, Stockholm), Jordaens uses many of Carravagio’s devices. These devices include the crowded arrangement of common people in the foreground of the picture, the emphasis on the materiality of objects, and the contrasts of light and shade.

Among Jordaens’ best works, which were painted in the 1620’s and 1630’s, are The Education of Jupiter (1620, Picture Gallery, Kassel), Family Portrait (c. 1622–25, Prado, Madrid), The Allegory of Fertility (c. 1625–28, Museum of Ancient Art, Brussels), and Boonenfeest (1638, Hermitage). These paintings reflect the distinctive characteristics of Jordaens’ realism—a predilection for sanguine peasant and burgher types, strong heavy figures, and lavish details; a preference for genre scenes and secular treatment of religious and mythological themes; and the use of warm colors and a strong, energetic, impasto painting technique.

Beginning in the 1640’s, Jordaens painted overly crowded ceremonial compositions, which were characterized by a sense of pompousness and false enthusiasm (for example, the panel The Triumph of Prince Frederik Hendrik of Orange, 1652, Huis ten Bosch, The Hague).


[Smol’skaia, N.] Iakob Iordans. Moscow, 1959. [Album.]
Puyvelde, L. van. Jordaens. Paris-Brussels, 1953.
The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.