Description: Research on Jordeans has not had immediate proximity to this painting since it has been in private hands for more than 200 years. Michael Jaffé has identified it as a very early, approximately 1614, work by Jordeans' own hand based on an illustration in an exhibition catalogue from 1955, while R.A. D'Hulst considers it to be a workshop creation. This opinion is contradicted by Hans Vlieghe in a detailed expertise based on the fact that he was able to examine the original. His arguments in determining that the work is an original painting by Jacob Jordeans' own hand are based on its differences to two other versions of the work's motif. One is a signed picture in Raleigh (USA), and another, unsigned, in the National Gallery in London, also believed to be a work by the artist's own hand. The present painting differs insofar as a fourth person is depicted, St. Joseph, and the group around the children has been restructured. The figure of Zacharias also displays differences, here wearing a red priest's robe with a wide embroidered border, and the striped blanket on St. Mary's lap.These details, although varying from the other known versions, can be found in other works by Jordeans. The noticeable influence of Caravaggio in our picture, here the contrast between Joseph's head in the semi-dark and his brightly lit hand pointing towards the infant Jesus, his energetic realism, are - according to Vlieghe - singular indication of an early date for our painting, before 1620. He also states that there is no evidence of a workshop around Jordeans during that time. The particular attraction of the painting's theme is in the depiction of the two Holy Families and in certain details. The unusual wicker chair in which St. Mary is seated, or the cage holding the attention of the two children. A goldfinch is fastened with thread to the cage - a pleasing motif with deeper symbolism. It may have the meaning of freeing the human soul by the sacrifice of Christ, or as a metaphor for the education of the child (Vlieghe). The particular attraction of the painting, however, lies in the domestic and humane life of the two Holy Families.
Dimensions: 112.5 x 148 cm
Artist or Maker: JACOB JORDAENS
Medium: oil on canvas (relined)
Exhibited: THE HOLY FAMILY WITH THE INFANT SAINT JOHN AND HIS PARENTS
Literature: >>> Münster: Meisterwerke Holländischer und Flämischer Malerei aus Westfälischen Privatbesitz,1939, no. 29, plate XII. - Aachen: Ausstellung Flämischer und Holländischer Gemälde aus Aachner Privatbesitz, 1955, no. 45, ill. no. 7.
Provenance: >>> The painting was in the collection of the noble family J. zur Mühlen (Westphalia) built in the 18th century. - Since thein family possession.
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Hans Vlieghe, Bonheiden, 25.11.2011.
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