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Among the three most renowned Flemish Baroque painters - Rubens, Van Dyck, Joardens - Jacques Joardens is undoubtedly the least studied, and therefore the least understood.
He is often reduced to the role of talented genre painter, author of homely scenes like The King Drinks and As the Old Sing, So the Young Pipe. Yet the image of Joardens as a poor man's Rubens - however beloved - obscures the better part of his extensive and varied oeuvre.
This book elucidates the more erudite side of Joardens' production by zeroing in on a single theme, the Allegory of Fertility, principal versions of which are held in the Royal Museums of Fine Arts of Belgium in Brussels and the Wallace Collection in London, respectively.
The essays in this volume examine these canvases jointly and severally, exploring the complex relationship between the two paintings and their genesis. Curators from the two museums, restorers, Joardens scholars, and university professors wielding the latest analytic techniques examine the two works from the perspective of their respective methodologies. Their multidisciplinary investigations are moreover richly illustrated - not only by images of paintings themselves, but also by preliminary drawings, prints, macro photos, X-rays, paint-layer analyses, and special digital imaging and analysis of the canvas weave. Most of the technical illustrations were produced specially for this publication.
The scientific results of this international study reveal an artist who demonstrates his multifaceted and sometimes radical creativity in successive variations on a single theme, albeit one with immense possibilities.
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