Share article:
Share article:

Painting hanging in council office is Baroque masterpiece

The institute used infra-red technology to study the work. © IRPA-KIK

A painting that has hung for 60 years in an office in Saint-Gilles town hall has been identified as a Baroque original by the Flemish artist Jacob Jordaens.

The painting decorating the office wall of the municipal councillor for town planning was assumed to be a copy, until an inventory was carried out by the Royal Institute for Cultural Heritage (IRPA), and experts began asking questions.

After verification, the wood-panel painting was discovered to be the earliest version of a view of the Holy Family painted several times by Jordaens. Other iterations of the work are currently in the possession of the Metropolitan Museum in New York, the Hermitage in Saint-Petersburg and the Alte Pinakothek in Munich.

The work has been dated to 1617-1618.

A detailed analysis even revealed that the wood of the Jordaens panel comes from the same tree that was used in several compositions by Anthony Van Dyck, another Baroque Master,” the Institute said. “This finding strengthens the existing hypothesis that as young artists, Jordaens and Van Dyck were both active in Rubens’ studio.”

Jacob (Jacques) Jordaens (1593-1678) was born in Antwerp and lived and worked there all his life, apart from a few trips in the Low Countries. He was a successful painter during his lifetime, and is generally considered to be one of a triumvirate of Flemish Baroque painters, together with Pieter Paul Rubens and Anthony Van Dyke.

After the death of Rubens in 1640, Jordaens was the main painter in Antwerp for major commissions. Van Dyck, meanwhile, had been working in London as court painter to Charles I, and died a year after Rubens.

The painting will now go into a year-long period of restoration, carried out by the Royal Institute and financed by, the regions agency for cultural heritage. It will then go into the Royal Museum of Fine Arts in Brussels, where it will augment what is already the world’s largest collection of Jordaens’ works.

It’s an extraordinary moment of emotion to discover an original work by one of the greatest Baroque painters,” said Constantin Pion, art historian at the Royal Institute.

Just as it is to experience the fascinating scientific investigation that revealed that this Holy Family is an early painting and represents an important milestone in the work of Jacques Jordaens.”

A video (in French) explaining the discovery has been posted to YouTube.

Alan Hope
The Brussels Times

Latest news

Experts call for more widespread use of masks as figures rise
As coronavirus figures continue to rise, Belgian Prime Minister Alexander De Croo has suggested that people return to wearing masks when indoors with ...
Belgium wants to recover €420 million in wrongfully paid out coronavirus aid
The Belgian State intends to recover €420 million of unduly paid Covid-19 aid, La Libre Belgique reported on Thursday. The electronic Council of ...
Why the fight for transgender rights is polarising Europe 
Year after year, Samuel De Schepper would ask Santa Claus to bring him a penis for Christmas. Born female and attending an all girl’s Catholic ...
New offshore wind farm officially opened
Despite being operational since the end of 2020, the SeaMade offshore wind farm was officially inaugurated on Wednesday by Prime Minister Alexander ...
Contact tracers have no time for calls, only texts, amid rising cases
Contract tracers will no longer make phone calls to the high-risk contacts of people who test positive for the coronavirus beginning from Wednesday, ...
Belgium holds on to top spot in FIFA rankings despite recent losses
Once again, Belgium's Red Devils have held onto their position at the top of the world football rankings, according to an update released by the ...
Proximus pushes for high-speed internet in Brussels and Wallonia
Fifteen municipalities in Wallonia should soon have access to high-speed internet through the rollout of fibre optics in the region, telecoms giant ...
Why Belgium is regulating sex work
After decades of confusing rules and hypocritical policy, Belgium is finally regulating sex work by removing prostitution from the criminal law. ...
World’s largest chocolate warehouse opens in Flanders
On Thursday, Barry Callebaut – the largest global chocolate processor and manufacturer – opened the world's largest chocolate warehouse in Lokeren, ...
Belgium in Brief: Equal Opportunity To Dance
There's a phrase where I'm from, more often said in jest nowadays, but it came to my mind this morning: "Ye dancin'?" (Are you dancing?), one ...
Farmer discovers cocaine in banana boxes bought in Brussels
A Flemish farmer who purchased boxes of bananas at the market in Brussels on Tuesday came home to discover large amounts of cocaine packed among the ...
Changes to speed cameras increase likelihood of a ticket
Changes to the way speed cameras work in Flanders and Wallonia will increase the likelihood of receiving a ticket when cars pass them above the ...