This study of a child, being tenderly helped to sip from a glass, is preparatory to a figure in the lower left of the St Petersburg version of Jordaens' The King Drinks (fig. 1).1 The subject was painted by the artist many times and illustrates the feast of the Epiphany, celebrated in Flanders on the 6th January. The version in the Hermitage, thought by d'Hulst to be the best of the group, is dated circa 1640-45, thereby providing a date for the current sheet.
The same girl is found in the version of The King Drinks in the Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna, although in this painting she drinks from the glass unaided.2 A preparatory study for this figure, also in red and black chalk heightened with white, is in the Herzog Anton-Ulrich Museum, Braunschweig. D'Hulst catalogued the latter as Jordaens' study for both the Vienna and St Petersburg paintings, despite the differences in the girl's pose.3 However, the emergence of the present drawing, hitherto unknown, suggests that separate studies were made for each version.
1. See L. van Puyvelde, Jordaens, Paris 1953, p. 137, fig. 8
2. Ibid, fig. 90
3. R.-A. d'Hulst, Jordaens Drawings, London 1974, vol. I, p. 314, cat. no. A235, vol. III, fig. 250
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