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Mars standing

Mars standing
inscribed ‘hoet wel veur’ (upper right)
red, black and white chalk on blue-grey paper
16 7/8 x 10 ½ in. (42.8 x 26.6 cm)
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These lots have been imported from outside of the UK for sale and placed under the Temporary Admission regime. Import VAT is payable at 5% on the hammer price. VAT at 20% will be added to the buyer’s premium but will not be shown separately on our invoice.

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Laetitia Masson
Laetitia Masson Old Master Drawings

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Lot Essay

Like Peter Paul Rubens and other Flemish contemporary artists, Jordaens distinguished himself as a productive and gifted designer of tapestries. Among the best-known of his tapestry designs are those depicting horses, specifically the ‘Riding School’ (or ‘Horsemanship’) series (K. Nelson, Jacob Jordaens. Design for tapestry, [Turnhout], 1998, pp. 37-42; pp. 290-291, nos. A94-A100, ill.; R.-A. d’Hulst in Jacob Jordaens (1593-1678), exhib. cat., Antwerp, Koninklijk Museum voor Schone Kunsten, 2007-2008, I, Paintings and tapestries, pp. 290-301; K. Schmitz-von Ledebur in Tapestry in the baroque. Threads of Splendor, exhib. cat., New York, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2007-2008, no. 26, ill.). Jordaens is mentioned in 1651 as author of cartoons representing ‘actien van peerden’ (actions of horses), which on stylistic reasons can be dated to the middle of the 1640s, at the height of the artist’s career.

The Riding School series consists of eight panels, of which a complete set from the workshops of the Brussels weavers Everaert Leyniers III and Hendrick Reydams I is preserved in the Kunstkammer at the Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna (inv. T XL/1-T XL/8). Opening with a composition depicting the creation of the horse by Neptune, the remaining scenes represent different figures performed by a horse and a young rider, accompanied by Mars, sometimes also by Mercury. The figure in the present drawing corresponds to Mars – in reverse, with the second position of the left leg retained – in the scene depicting a mézair, one of the classical dressage movements in which the horse leaves the ground (fig.; see Nelson, op. cit., no. 39 (1H), fig. 90). Another woven version of the scene, with the horse and figure set in a different landscape, survives in the Forsvarets Museer at Akershus Castle, Oslo (ibid., no. 39 (2S), fig. 53).

The drawing offered here appears to be the only one known related to the series. No trace exists of the cartoons mentioned in the 1651 document, but three painted modelli on canvas survive in the museums in Antwerp, Ottawa and Havana (D’Hulst in exhib. cat., Antwerp, 1993, op. cit., op. cit., 2007-2008, nos. A73-A74, ill.). Characteristic of many of Jordaens’ studies are the three colours of chalk he employed (a technique also often found in works by Rubens and other Flemish draughtsmen), but the drawing is a rare example of his use of blue paper, more typical of Anthony van Dyck and his followers; another drawing on this support by Jordaens is in the Kupferstichkabinett, Berlin, inv. KdZ 2822 (R.-A. d’Hulst, Jordaens Drawings, Brussels, 1974, I, no. A147, III, fig. 160). Jordaens depicted Mars in a very similar outfit in a drawing dated around 1640 at the Royal Library in Brussels, inv. F.15.663 (D’Hulst in exhib. cat., Antwerp, 1993, II, Drawings and Prints, no. B44, ill.).

Fig. Hendrik Reydams, after Jacob Jordaens, Young cavalier executing a mézair in the presence of Mars and a putto. Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna.

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