Lot 51
  • 51

Jacob Jordaens

100,000 - 150,000 GBP
bidding is closed


  • Jacob, the elder Jordaens
  • The wife of King Candaules
  • oil on canvas


Possibly Baron Coenraad Baron Droste;

His sale, The Hague, 21 July 1734, lot 4. 

Catalogue Note

The subject is related by Herodotus in his Histories: Candaules, King of Lydia boasted to his favourite bodyguard Gyges of the beauty of his wife, and insisted that Gyges receive proof. He ordered Gyges to hide behind a door in the Royal bed-chamber so that he could witness the beauty of the unclad Queen. 

This is a study or modello for the figure of King Candaules’ wife in Jordaens’ large painting of King Candaules’ wife displaying herself to Gyges at the behest of her husband, dated 1646, and now in the Nationalmuseum, Stockholm.1 In the completed work it is clear that King Candaules’ wife is looking over her shoulder at the viewer, and not at Gyges, who is to the extreme right of the composition. In the present work there is a clearly visible and significant pentiment in the lace cap that she wears. Originally, the cap extended further to the left, its deeper lobes covering most of her hair. The revised form is much closer to the finished painting, but Jordaens moved the lowest two lobes of lace back towards her neck, strongly suggesting that this study precedes it.

The thinly applied drapery along the bottom of the painting (in contrast to the thicker white cloth draped over the subject's left elbow) appears to have been added later, perhaps when the work was being prepared for sale. Visible in the lower right corner however, looped round her right arm, is a white drapery underneath the added and more thinly painted white cloth running along the bottom. This appears to be original, an impression confirmed in X-Ray.2 Unlike the thicker drapery to the left, this does not occur in the finished painting in Stockholm.

The measurements (23 duim x 19 duim) correspond with a painting of Jordaens described as of Queen Tomyris which was sold in the sale of Baron Droste in The Hague in 1734. No other work depicting Queen Tomyris is known by Jordaens.

1. See N. de Poorter, in R.-A. d’Hulst, N. de Poorter and M. Vandenven, Jacob Jordaens (1593–1678), exhibition catalogue, Antwerp 1993, pp. 236–39, no. A76, reproduced.

2.  Available on request.