Art/ Collection/ Art Object

The Holy Family with Shepherds

Artist:
Jacob Jordaens (Flemish, Antwerp 1593–1678 Antwerp)
Date:
1616
Medium:
Oil on canvas, transferred from wood
Dimensions:
42 x 30 in. (106.7 x 76.2 cm)
Classification:
Paintings
Credit Line:
Bequest of Miss Adelaide Milton de Groot (1876–1967), 1967
Accession Number:
67.187.76
On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 630
The date of 1616 on the tall shepherd’s hat is the earliest known on any work by Jordaens. He never went to Italy but intensified the Caravaggesque qualities found in works by Rubens and other Antwerp artists such as Abraham Janssens. His handling of light and shadow and closely clustered figure groups convey a sense of intimacy that is distinctive of the young Jordaens.
Forthcoming
Inscription: Signed and dated (top left): J.JOR[DAENS] Fe / 1616
?marquise du Blaisel (until 1850; sale, Laneuville, Paris, March 28, 1850, no. 16, as "Sainte Famille. Très beau tableau digne de Rubens."); ?[Sedelmeyer, Paris]; John Wanamaker, Philadelphia (by 1904–probably until d. 1934; cat., 1904, no. 235); [Mortimer Brandt, New York, until 1940]; Adelaide Milton de Groot, New York (1940–d. 1967)
New York. Mortimer Brandt Gallery. "Jacob Jordaens (1593–1678)," February 17–March 16, 1940, no. 1.

Ottawa. National Gallery of Canada. "Jacob Jordaens, 1593–1678," November 29, 1968–January 5, 1969, no. 10.

Athens. National Gallery Alexandros Soutzos Museum. "From El Greco to Cézanne: Masterpieces of European Painting from the National Gallery of Art, Washington, and The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York," December 13, 1992–April 11, 1993, no. 10.

Antwerp. Koninklijk Museum voor Schone Kunsten. "Jacob Jordaens (1593–1678)," March 27–June 27, 1993, no. A7.

E. C. Siter. Catalogue of the Collection of Pictures by the Old Masters & of the Early English Schools & Mihály Munkácsy, Compiled from the Latest Biographies Encyclopedia & Museum Catalogue by E. C. Siter. Philadelphia, [1904], p. 107, no. 235, pl. 178, as from the collection of the marquis du Blaisel; reproduces it in its overpainted state.

Julius S. Held. Jacob Jordaens (1593–1678). Exh. cat., Mortimer Brandt Gallery. New York, 1940, unpaginated, no. 1, ill. (frontispiece).

Julius S. Held. "Unknown Paintings by Jordaens in America." Parnassus 11 (March 1940), pp. 27–29, ill. p. 26.

"A Jordaens Exhibition in New York." Burlington Magazine 76 (March 1940), p. 100, pl. B .

"Jordaens, Dutch Eclectic, Seen in New York." Art Digest 14 (March 1, 1940), p. 6, ill.

Julius S. Held. "Jordaens' Portraits of his Family—I." Art Bulletin 22 (March 1940), p. 75.

Harry B. Wehle. "The de Groot Collection." Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin 6 (June 1948), pp. 264, 266, ill.

Leo van Puyvelde. Jordaens. Paris, 1953, pp. 27, 91, 173 n. 30, p. 187, pl. 13.

R[oger].-A. d'Hulst. "Jacob Jordaens, schets van een chronologie zijner werken onstaan vóór 1618." Gentse bijdragen tot de kunstgeschiedenis 14 (1953), pp. 114–16, 118, 125, 130, 137–38, pl. 13, as Jordaens's earliest dated work.

R[oger].-A. d'Hulst. De tekeningen van Jakob Jordaens. Brussels, 1956, pp. 41–42, 45, 50, 54, 58, 70, 319, fig. 10.

Rüdiger Klessmann. "Jacob Jordaens: Die Heimkehr der Hl. Familie aus Ägypten." Berliner Museen 8 (November 1958), p. 44, fig. 3.

H[orst]. Gerson and E. H. ter Kuile. Art and Architecture in Belgium 1600 to 1800. Baltimore, [1960], p. 129.

Rüdiger Klessmann. "'The Return of the Holy Family from Egypt' by Jacob Jordaens." Bulletin of Rhode Island School of Design 48 (December 1961), p. 3.

Rüdiger Klessmann. "Nachtrag zu Jacob Jordaens." Berliner Museen 10 (January 1961), p. 21.

Rüdiger Klessmann. "Ein neues Werk des Johann Liss in der Berliner Gemäldegalerie." Nordelbingen 34 (1964), p. 85, fig. 3.

L[eo]. v. P[uyvelde]. Le siècle de Rubens. Exh. cat., Musées Royaux des Beaux-Arts de Belgique. Brussels, 1965, p. 116, under no. 123.

Roger-A. d'Hulst. Tekeningen van Jacob Jordaens, 1593–1678. Exh. cat., Rubenshuis. Antwerp, 1966, p. 13.

Michael Jaffé. Jacob Jordaens, 1593–1678. Exh. cat., National Gallery of Canada. Ottawa, [1968], pp. 38, 41, 49, 67, 75–76, 144, no. 10, ill. p. 256, tentatively identifies it with the Adoration formerly belonging to Rubens, and listed in his inventory as no. 266 [but see Notes].

Michael Jaffé. "The Robust Virtuosity of Jordaens." Apollo 88 (November 1968), pp. 364, 366, 370, fig. 1.

Julius S. Held. "Jordaens at Ottawa." Burlington Magazine 111 (May 1969), p. 271.

Joseph Philippe. "Nouvelles découvertes sur Jordaens." Jaarboek van het Koninklijk Museum voor Schone Kunsten Antwerpen (1970), p. 228 n. 58.

Justus Müller Hofstede. "Abraham Janssens: Zur Problematik des flämischen Caravaggismus." Jahrbuch der Berliner Museen 13 (1971), pp. 278–79, 286, 288, 291 n. 288, pp. 292, 302–3, fig. 37.

R[oger].-A. d'Hulst. Jordaens Drawings. London, 1974, vol. 1, p. 68.

V. Denis. La peinture flamande 15e–16e–17e siècles. Brussels, 1976, p. 203.

Jean Lacambre in Le Siècle de Rubens dans les collections publiques françaises. Exh. cat., Galeries Nationales du Grand Palais. Paris, 1977, p. 103, under no. 64.

Benedict Nicolson. "Stomer Brought Up-to-date." Burlington Magazine 119 (April 1977), p. 239, fig. 23.

Marc Vandenven, ed. Jordaens in Belgisch bezit. Exh. cat., Koninklijk Museum voor Schone Kunsten Antwerpen. [Antwerp], 1978, p. 29, under no. 5.

Howard Hibbard. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York, 1980, pp. 313, 320, 324, fig. 575.

Julius S. Held. The Oil Sketches of Peter Paul Rubens. Princeton, 1980, vol. 1, p. 450, under no. 324.

R[oger].-A. d'Hulst. Jacob Jordaens. Ithaca, N.Y., 1982, pp. 28, 44, 66, 71, 124, 330 n. 30, fig. 38.

Walter A. Liedtke. Flemish Paintings in The Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York, 1984, vol. 1, pp. 121–26, fig. 24 (radiograph); vol. 2, colorpl. IX, pl. 52, discusses it in relation to similar compositions from about 1615–18.

Walter A. Liedtke. "Flemish Paintings in the Metropolitan Museum—II: Van Dyck, Jordaens, Brouwer, and Others." Tableau 6 (February 15, 1984), pp. 30–31, fig. 10 (color).

Introduction by Walter A. Liedtke in Flemish Paintings in America: A Survey of Early Netherlandish and Flemish Paintings in the Public Collections of North America. Antwerp, 1992, pp. 25, 217–19, no. 67, ill. in color (overall and detail).

Deborah Krohn et al. in From El Greco to Cézanne: Masterpieces of European Painting from the National Gallery of Art, Washington, and The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York. Exh. cat., National Gallery Alexandros Soutzos Museum. Athens, 1992, p. 306, no. 10, ill. (color) [catalogue section unpaginated].

Rüdiger Klessmann in Von Bruegel bis Rubens: Das goldene Jahrhundert der flämischen Malerei. Exh. cat., Wallraf-Richartz-Museum. Cologne, 1992, p. 154.

Christiane Stukenbrock in Von Bruegel bis Rubens: Das goldene Jahrhundert der flämischen Malerei. Exh. cat., Wallraf-Richartz-Museum. Cologne, 1992, p. 334, as "Anbetung der Hl. Drei Könige".

Hella Robels in Von Bruegel bis Rubens: Das goldene Jahrhundert der flämischen Malerei. Exh. cat., Wallraf-Richartz-Museum. Cologne, 1992, pp. 531–32, under no. 130.5.

Peter C. Sutton. The Age of Rubens. Exh. cat., Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. Boston, 1993, p. 49, fig. 45.

R[oger].-A. d'Hulst et al. in Jacob Jordaens (1593–1678). Ed. Hans Devisscher and Nora de Poorter. Exh. cat., Koninklijk Museum voor Schone Kunsten, Antwerp. Vol. 1, "Paintings and Tapestries."Brussels, 1993, pp. 7, 23, 58–61, no. A7, ill. (color, overall and detail).

Ben Broos. Intimacies & Intrigues: History Painting in the Mauritshuis. The Hague, 1993, pp. 155, 157, fig. 2.

Hans Vlieghe in La pittura nei Paesi Bassi. Ed. Bert W. Meijer. Milan, 1997, vol. 2, pp. 309, 403 n. 65.

Dennis P. Weller. Sinners & Saints, Darkness and Light: Caravaggio and His Dutch and Flemish Followers. Exh. cat., North Carolina Museum of Art. Raleigh, 1998, p. 158, fig. 2, under no. 27.

Kristi Nelson. Jacob Jordaens: Design for Tapestry. [Turnhout, Belgium], 1998, p. 4.

Fiona Healy in A House of Art: Rubens as Collector. Exh. cat., Rubenshuis, Antwerp. Schoten, Belgium, 2004, pp. 188, 190, fig. 36a.

Görel Cavalli-Björkman in Rubens & Van Dyck. Exh. cat., Nationalmuseum. Stockholm, [2010], p. 264, under no. 73.



The date of 1616 is the earliest date found on any work by Jordaens. The entire figure of the shepherd was once painted over, but there is no reason to doubt the signature and date. Radiography [see Ref. Liedtke 1984, fig. 24] reveals that, initially, Jordaens included the head of an old woman to the right of the Virgin. This clarifies the relationship of our painting to similar compositions from about 1615–18. Some of these must be earlier than the Museum's picture [see Ref. Liedtke 1984].

Although Michael Jaffé [see Ref. 1968] identifies our picture with the Adoration formerly belonging to Rubens and listed in his inventory as no. 266, this picture was on canvas and ours was originally on wood, later transferred to canvas.
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