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Studio of Jacob Jordaens (Antwerp 1593-1678)
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Studio of Jacob Jordaens (Antwerp 1593-1678)

The King Drinks

Details
Studio of Jacob Jordaens (Antwerp 1593-1678)
The King Drinks
oil on canvas
61½ x 86 in. (156.2 x 218.5 cm.)
Provenance
Édouard Louis Joseph, Baron Empain, and by descent to the present owner.
Exhibited
Brussels, Musées Royaux des Beaux-Arts de Belgique, Exposition d'oeuvres de Jordaens et de son atelier, 27 October-12 November 1928, p. 50, no. 93 (on loan from Baron Empain).
Special notice

No VAT will be charged on the hammer price, but VAT at 15% will be added to the buyer's premium which is invoiced on a VAT inclusive basis.
Sale room notice
Please note that the correct provenace should read:
Acquired before 1914 by Baron Francois Empain,
and by descent to the present owner.

Lot Essay

This lively picture presents a typical Flemish household celebrating the feast of Epiphany (6 January) with a traditional feast. A 'king' would be chosen at random - either by drawing lots or by finding a bean hidden in the cake - and crowned with a paper coronet. The king would then be given the privilege of appointing the other officials of his court: the queen, counsellor, cupbearer, carver, musician, jester, physician and others, depending on the size of the company. Because such a scene envolves merry figures playing at courtly life, the subject gave Jordaens the opportunity to explore several of his favourite modes of painting all at once: the history painting, the genre scene and the character study.

The King Drinks was one of Jordaens's most popular subjects, he returned to it several times in his lifetime. The present picture is based on an original now in the Staatliche Museen at Kassel. Painted in circa 1640, the Kassel canvas was extended on its left side around 1650-60. As the present picture does not reflect the extension, it seems that it was probably painted from Jordaens's original composition before the extension was made.

By the turn of the twentieth century, this picture belonged to the great Belgian entrepreneur Édouard Louis Joseph, Baron Empain (1852-1929), whose companies developed several French railway lines, including the Paris Métro.

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