This humorous yet moralizing subject was one that Jordaens treated a number of times over a period of some twenty years, first in a 1638 painting in Antwerp and then, eight years later, as one of a series of eight tapestries illustrating proverbs taken from Jacob Cats' Spiegel van den Ouden en de Nieuwen Tijdt (The Hague, 1632); the design for this tapestry is now in Edinburgh.1 At around the same moment, he painted another version of the subject, formerly in the Arenberg Collection and now in another Belgian private collection (fig.1)2, and then in 1658 a final interpretation of the theme, formerly in Berlin but destroyed in 1945.3 The present study is closest, in terms of the old man's pose, to the painting formerly in the Arenberg Collection.
A study by Jordaens for his first, Antwerp version of the subject, formerly in the Van Regteren Altena Collection, is very comparable in handling to this one, as is another, sold in London some years earlier, for the later painting formerly in Berlin.4 Also very similar in style is another study of the head of an old man, sold in 2015 from the collection of John Winter.5
1. National Gallery of Scotland, inv. D1192; see R.-A. d'Hulst, Jordaens Drawings, 4 vols., London/New York 1974, cat. A188, illus.
2. R.-A. d'Hulst, 'Jordaens Drawings: Supplement II', Master Drawings vol. XXVIII, no. 2 (Summer 1990), p. 156, fig. 18
3. Ibid, p. 167, fig. 28
4. Sold, respectively, London, Christie's, 10 July 2014, lot 11, and London, Sotheby's, 2 July 1997, lot 73
5. Sale, London, Sotheby's, 10 December 2015, lot 25
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