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Jacob Jacques Jordaens was born in May 1593, in Antwerp, Belgium. He was born into a wealthy linen merchant family and was the elder of eleven children. Although little is known about Jordaens’ early education, it is supposed that he was provided proper training, a usual privilege for children of his social class. This theory is supported by his proficient French, knowledge of mythology, and clear writing. His familiarity and interest in religious subjects are apparent in many of his paintings. His curiosity with the Bible was only strengthened after his conversion from being Catholic to Protestant.
Like Rubens, Jacob Jordaens studied under Adam van Noort, who was also his only teacher. During this period, he lived in Van Noort’s house, where he became very close to the rest of his teacher’s family.
After eight years of studying with van Noort, Jordaens entered the Guild of St. Luke as a watercolorist or waterschilder. The watercolor was commonly used for preparing tapestry drawings in the seventeenth century, a medium that Jacob would also work. Jordaens’ appraisal for Rubens was such that the artist built his house mimicking Rubens’, where he lived until his death.
Jordaens never made a trip to Italy to research Renaissance and Classical art, as was the tradition at the time. The artist would instead learn about the Italian Masters through prints and artworks of Italian masters located in northern Europe. Through that method, the artist studied Veronese, Titian, Bassano, and Caravaggio. Jordaens patrons were mostly commonly wealthy Flemish clients and clergy. Although towards his late-career, the artist would work for governments and courts throughout Europe. Besides his impressive number of oil paintings, Jordaens was also a very prolific tapestry designer.
Following Rubens’ death in 1640, Jordaens became one of the foremost painters in the city of Antwerp. Jordaens, like Rubens, utilized a worm palettes on his compositions, as well as naturalism, and a masterfully executed techniques of tenebrism and chiaroscuro. The artist also completed many pictures inspired by Jan Steen, painting large-scale genre scenes inspired by peasant themes.
Jacob Jordaens died in October 1678, a victim of the mysterious Antwerp disease, which also victimized his daughter on the very same day.