Jordaens, 'La Gloire d'Anvers'

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/ © Stéphane Piera / Petit Palais / Roger-Viollet
Jacob Jordaens, 'Le Repos de Diane', c. 1640

When you think of Flemish painters, you think Rembrandt, Rubens, Van Dyck. Less well-known, undeservedly, is Jacques Jordaens (1593-1678). In France, at least until the Petit Palais undertook to repair the omission in autumn 2013, he has never had a large-scale retrospective. A bourgeois from Antwerp who barely ever left his hometown, Jordaens was nevertheless one of the most famous painters of the 17th century.

Strongly influenced by Caravaggio and Rubens, Jordaens developed a unique style somewhere between his two prestigious elders, but also drawing on Venetian renaissance painters and the art of antiquity. From family portraits in religious compositions, via extraordinary landscapes, to subjects portrayed with brutal realism, Jordaens became famous for his lively perspectives, games of colour, and his balance between lightness and emphasis.

Although Antwerp, once the time the economic capital of the Western world, steadily lost its pre-eminence during the 17th century, Jordaens saw commissions flowing in from all over Europe. His work contributed to maintaining the reputation of his hometown; he became the glory of Antwerp.

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