Catchy exhibition by Jacob Jordaens shows the splendor of ceiling pieces through mirror floor

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Catchy exhibition by Jacob Jordaens shows the splendor of ceiling pieces through mirror floor

The exhibition ‘At home with Jordaens’ in the Frans Hals Museum in Haarlem.Statue Frans Hals Museum

At home with Jordaens is the name of the small but fine exhibition about the Flemish Baroque painter Jacob Jordaens (1593-1678) in the Frans Hals Museum, and that title can be interpreted in two ways.

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One: Jordaens’ own family was regularly called up by the artist as models, and therefore often figures in the paintings shown here, and two: the highlight of the exhibition, a nine-part ceiling painting, was in the same family’s home for a long time.

That house was on the Antwerp Hoogstraat, within walking distance of the current city hall. Actually, they were two separate buildings, which can be entered through one gate. In the house, the ceiling pieces adorned the ‘showroom’, a reception room completely covered with paintings, mainly intended to impress the potential clientele; a species over the top business card. They were removed from the building in 1887, after which they came into the hands of The Phoebus Foundation a century and a half later, the foundation that supplied all Jordaensen in this exhibition. He had the works thoroughly studied and restored and, for the first time, loaned them to the Frans Hals Museum, where they can be viewed via a mirror floor installed for the occasion.

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The story of Amor and Psyche depicted on it does not immediately ring bells. It does sound familiar. It is again nothing but hatred and envy between the gods. Venus is jealous of Psyche, and orders Amor to make her fall in love with an ugly one, but oh dear, Amor falls in love with Psyche herself, and, eat that Venus, after all sorts of complications, ends up at her side at the altar on Olympus. This is when a nasty twist ensues in many myths. If not here: Amor and Psyche remain happily married. This makes it one of the few mythological love stories with a happy ending. Perhaps that’s why Jordaens painted it in his house.

Catchy exhibition by Jacob Jordaens shows the splendor of ceiling pieces through mirror floor

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‘Psyche Receives the Cup of Immortality on Olympus’ (circa 1652) by Jacob Jordaens.Statue The Phoebus Foundation

The perspective used is, as is often the case with ceiling pieces, that of a frog. We look diagonally from below at the furniture, draperies, angels, frames and characters. Truly a strange view of the gods! It suddenly turns out to consist entirely of the sole of the foot, armpit, scrotum, nasal cavity and other usually (semi) hidden body parts. You imagine the intricacies of painting such a scene. It is true that Jordaens did not make the paintings on his back, lying on a shaky scaffolding in a cold church, as fresco painters Tiepolo or Michelangelo were forced to do, but it was nevertheless extremely difficult to reproduce all those spaces and bodies in abbreviated form. He’s doing well. Although the gods sometimes seem to lean forward as if they are staggering on a balance beam (the only way to show any of their faces), you really do feel like you are looking into an imaginary space, which you could enter with a ladder .

Catchy exhibition by Jacob Jordaens shows the splendor of ceiling pieces through mirror floor

‘As the old sang, so the young beep’ (1640-’45) by Jacob Jordaens.

Then the Jordaens family itself, and its presence in Jordaens’ farcical, bold paintings. on As the old sang, so the young beep (1640-’45), for example, in which not only Jordaens’ father-in-law, the artist Adam van Noord, but also his mother-in-law, wife and youngest son figure. Such a portrayed proverb could be old-fashioned, were it not for the fact that it is all so catchy and painted with gusto. Heads that stay with you, objects that want to be looked at, a dog whose back seems to say: ‘pet me’: infectious. Jordaens’ living rooms are collages of strong portraits and still lifes. You like to come over there.

At home with Jordaens

Visual arts

★★★★ ☆

until January 30

Frans Hals Museum, Hof

Catchy exhibition by Jacob Jordaens shows the splendor of ceiling pieces through mirror floor

‘Serenade’ (circa 1640-1645) by Jacob Jordaens.Statue The Phoebus Foundation

The South Stone

If Rubens was the Flemish Rembrandt and Van Dyck the Belgian Hals, Jordaens was the southern Jan Steen. Same predilection for the peasant and scabrous. The same talent for depicting his farces in intelligently constructed, exceptionally well painted tableaux. The resemblance is no coincidence, perhaps. Jordaens had assignments in the Republic, his paintings were circulated in print form and Steen certainly came across. Steen’s habit of making cameos in his own work, for example as a bagpiper, seems to have been copied directly from Jordaens, who also appears here with bagpipes. But more than Steen, Jordaens was fond of nonfunctional nudity. For example, look at Midas judgment (circa 1640), a representation of yet another divine quarrel. “Do you also notice King Midas’s donkey ears first?” the text sign asks rhetorically. Well no, not really – those shadow-shrouded ears are the last thing you notice. What catches the eye are the buttocks, breasts, torsos and thighs that Jordaens put full in the spotlight. It was the meaty thing that he seemed to care about. That story about that divine twist seemed to him what a broken heart was to blues singers: a trigger.

Catchy exhibition by Jacob Jordaens shows the splendor of ceiling pieces through mirror floor
Source link Catchy exhibition by Jacob Jordaens shows the splendor of ceiling pieces through mirror floor

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