• Head of a Laughing Man

    Artist:
    Jordaens, Jacob. 1593-1678
    Technique:
    black and withe chalk, sanguine
    Dimensions:
    16,4х14,7 cm

Jordaens, Jacob. 1593-1678

Head of a Laughing Man

Flanders, circa 1650

This work, which came into the Hermitage collection only recently, has never been exhibited before or mentioned in the scholarly literature. The drawing was made with black chalk, sanguine and white chalk – the technique that Jordaens used as a rule for his life studies. In this case, though, it is unlikely that we are looking at a model posing. The expressive personage sporting a fool’s cap and clearly absorbed in some activity is evidently an image that the artist devised and deliberately stylized for inclusion as one of the protagonists in a narrative painting that he intended to make. Such human types, ready-made elements of future compositions, form a separate isolated group in Jordaens’s legacy of graphic art. A similar personage, looking at the viewer with a sly grin, as if giving a conspiratorial wink, can be found in the middle ground of many of the artist’s allegorical and historical paintings, invariably playing the role of a detached commentator, reflecting the artist’s own attitude to what is going on. This character, whose age changed over the years, usually bore a greater or lesser resemblance to Jordaens himself. The present drawing also prompts the idea that this may be a sort of self-caricature. The artist used this study for the figure of the jester in the painting Know Thyself (Museum of Fine Arts, Rennes) that is usually dated to around 1650. A very similar personage appears in mirrored form in the 1653 picture Cleopatra’s Feast in the Hermitage collection.

Title:

Head of a Laughing Man

Place:

Date:

Material:

Technique:

black and withe chalk, sanguine

Dimensions:

16,4х14,7 cm

Acquisition date:

Entered the Hermitage in 2017; acquired from a private person

Inventory Number:

ОР-48776

Category:

Collection: