JACOB JORDAENS: THE FLEMISH BAROQUE PAINTER
Depicting boisterous scenes of peasant life and sensuous allegories with pronounced realism and exuberance, the Flemish artist, Jacob Jordaens, is celebrated as one of the most important painters of 17th-century Flanders.
Acclaimed as the leading Flemish Baroque painter of his time, Jordaens was born on May 19, 1593, in Antwerp. At fourteen, he was apprenticed to Adam van Noort, who also taught Rubens. After eight years of training with Van Noort, he enrolled in the Guild of St. Luke as a “waterscilder” or watercolor artist in 1615. In the same year, Jordaens married his teacher's eldest daughter, Anna Catharina van Noort, with whom he had three children.
Early in his career Jordaens executed designs for tapestries, and paintings such as “Allegory of Fertility” (c.1625) reveal his training as a decorator. Unlike most of his contemporaries, Jordaens never went to Italy, and his work is essentially Flemish in its exaggerated treatment of form and its crude humour. He was greatly influenced by his older contemporary Rubens and in the 1620s, he built a flourishing studio while also frequently assisting Rubens.
Jordaens style is based on Ruben's exuberance, with stronger chiaroscuro and thicker impesto. The colors of his paintings are warm and glowing, his figures are robust and incline to corpulence, and their faces are red and healthy. Jordaens paintings are particularly noted for their strong contrasts of light and shade, their compositions crowded with figures, and an air of sensual vitality that occasionally borders on coarseness.
Jordaens became internationally famous after Ruben's death in 1640. He was employed by Queen Christina of Sweden, by member of the House of Orange, and by the Burgomasters of Amsterdam for the decoration of the Town Hall. In 1639-40 he worked for Charles I of England.
Despite converting from Catholicism to Calvinism in 1648, Jordaens received numerous commissions for Catholic churches. In 1652, he played a major role in the decoration of the Huis ten Bosch (“House in the Woods”), a royal country house near The Hague, with mural paintings representing the”Triumph of Frederick Henry of Orange”, “Stadtholder of Holland” and “The Victory of Time”.
Jordaens continued to live and work in Antwerp. He became a wealthy man and remained active until late in life. He employed many pupils in his studio to reproduced versions of his most popular pictures, such as “The King Drinks” and “The Satyr” and “Peasant”. Jordaens died of a mysterious Antwerp disease on October 18, 1678, and was buried in the Protestant cemetery at Putte, a village just north of the Belgium border.