A Jacob Jordaens Painting Donated to the Israel Museum

Jacob Jordaens (1593-1678)
The King Drinks, c.1645
Oil on Canvas - 168 x 241 cm
Jerusalem, Israel Museum
Photo : Israel Museum

15/2/12 - Acquisition - Jerusalem, Israel Museum - The King Drinks is one of the most famous subjects in Jacob Jordaens’ work, and among the ones he most often painted.
The oldest version is the one at the Staatliche Museum in Cassel, dating from the 1630’s [1], then there are notably [2], that at the Louvre (1638-1640), at the Musée des Beaux-Arts in Brussels (c.1640), at the Hermitage in Saint Petersburg shortly after and at the Kunsthistorisches Museum in Vienna (1640-1645). Each has a different composition, multiplying the earthy characters banqueting in celebratory bonhomie.

Saul and Gayfryd Steinberg, of New York, have just donated a painting by Jacob Jordaens (ill.) with this same theme [3], painted around 1645 to the Israel Museum. The "king" who is of course a puppet monarch, designated on the feast of the Epiphany, is always the oldest member of the family in Jordaens’ paintings. He has just been crowned and is bringing a glass up to his lips while a member of the family, dressed as his jester and standing directly behind him, cries out : "the King drinks !". A figure at the bottom left, is throwing up what he drank, while a child seated on his mother’s lap on the right is urinating.
Jordaens transcends the vulgarity of the scene (we wouldn’t care to join in here) by means of an exceptional pictorial technique. Of special note is the very beautiful still life in the center which is worthy of the genre’s best masters.

This canvas, now hanging in the museum, has a prestigious provenance as it was successively in the Lord Burlingon collection until 1753, then that of the Duke of Devonshire until 1922. In 1924, it was acquired by Count Laurent de Meeus in Brussels before becoming the property of Saul and Gayfryd Steinberg in 1981.

Version française

Didier Rykner, mercredi 15 février 2012


[1] Cf. the exhibition catalogue of Jacob Jordaens (1593-1678), Tableaux et tapisseries, Antwerp, Koninkljk Museum voor Schone Kunsten, 1993, pp. 196-199.

[2] The dates of all of these versions are still being debated.

[3] We learned the news through the press release issued by the museum on the Codart website.

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