Klaas Muller

Jacob Jordaens (Antwerp, 1593-1678)
Study of an Evangelist, 17th century
Oil on panel
65 x 49 cm

This "tronie" or study-head may have been a design for an evangelist, as the man is holding a book. He looks dreamily ahead with the other hand on his chest. Jordaens used the "wet-on-wet" and impasto-technique for this powerful and virtuoso work, which generates a very lively effect. We can make a very interesting comparison with a beautiful and typical drawing by the master that is in the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam: (SEE IMAGE): "Evangelist, looking to the left" (black, red and white chalk and brush, 264 x 219mm, object no RP-T-1954-90). The similarities are obvious, but we still see small differences (for example the shape of the nose and beard, the hairline, ect.) and we can ask ourselves whether Jordaens made the drawing first or our painting. Our study is clearly "alla prima" and painted very spontaneously and it was not unusual that after an oil study of life, a drawing - for clarification - was made. Our painting is very similar to other study heads by Jordaens such as "Head of a bearded man, possibly an apostle" (Christie's NY, 14/10/2021, lot no 4) or "Head of an old man" (Amiens, Musée du Picardie) and "Job" (Detroit, Institute of Arts, Inv.43418). But also finished paintings such as Jordaens' "Four Evangelists" (Paris, Musée du Louvre, inv. 1404) or some heads on "Peter Finding the Silver Coin in the Mouth of the Fish" (Copenhagen, Statens Museum for Kunst, inv. KMS3198). The work can be dated to around 1630.