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Details & Cataloguing

Old Master & British Works on Paper

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Jacob Jordaens
ANTWERP 1593 - 1678
A SATYR WITH A FAMILY OF PEASANTS
Pen and brown ink and brown and grey wash and watercolour, over black and red chalk
182 by 230 mm
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Provenance

Alfred Sensier, his sale, Paris, 10-15 December 1877, lot 318 (according to E. Calando's notes in the handwritten catalogue of his collection);
Emile Calando, Senr., Paris (L.837, with pencil inventory number, 1855 on reverse of old backing);
sale, New York, Sotheby's, 26 January 2000, lot 58,
where purchased by the late owner

Literature

R.-A. d'Hulst, Jordaens Drawings, London 1974, vol. II, p. 467, cat. A408, vol. IV, fig. 428;
U. Heinen, 'Psyche, Satyrs, Philosophers. Jordaens and the wisdom of the Ancients', in Jordaens and the Antique, exh. cat., Brussels, Royal Museums of the Fine Arts of Belgium, and Kassel, Museum Fridericianum, 2012-13, pp. 136, 163, nn. 17, 21 

Catalogue Note

This typical and appealing drawing by Jordaens is one of a number of works by the artist in various media illustrating the story of the Satyr and the Peasant.  In the classical text, from the fables of Aesop, we read how the satyr, invited to dine with the peasant and his family, is astonished to see his host first blowing on his hands to warm them, then on his porridge to cool it, and the theme was adopted in the 17th-century Netherlands as an exemplary and proverbial illustration of how those who blow first hot and then cold are not to be trusted.  The theme became something of a favorite with Jordaens, as Ulrich Heinen described in the catalogue of the recent exhibition, Jordaens and the Antique (see Literature). 

D'Hulst, who knew the drawing only from an old photograph, dated it circa 1650-55. He also commented that it seemed to be rather rubbed, and retouched in pen and ink, a judgement that appears unduly harsh, reflecting the poor quality of the photograph at his disposal; Jordaens himself did on occasion add accents in pen to drawings largely executed in chalk and wash and there seems no reason to think that the pen lines in this drawing, which seem integral and structural, are not by his own hand.  One example of similar, autograph penwork is the drawing of the very same subject as this, in the Ecole Nationale Supérieure des Beaux Arts, Paris.1 

1.  D'Hulst, op. cit., cat. A51 

Old Master & British Works on Paper

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