This oil sketch depicts Saint Ives (1253-1303), the patron saint of attorneys. Originally from Brittany, Ives trained as a lawyer at the University of Paris before eventually becoming an official for the Bishop of Tréguier. The present work was likely created at the request of jurists in Antwerp who established a Confraternity of Saint Ives in 1630. In the scene, Saint Ives sits on the right, bearded and magisterial, listening to the pleas of supplicants before him. Next to him stand two clerks who, like the viewers, observe the saint acting with the wise judgment and advocacy for the poor for which he was revered.
Around 1640, Jordaens produced this oil sketch as well as another of the same subject now in the Museum Boijmans-van Beuningen, Rotterdam (inv. no. 2292). No full-scale finished work corresponds exactly to the present sketch, although Jordaens did create a larger oil painting (Musées-Royaux Brussels. inv. no. 3439) and a tapestry cartoon (Paris, Louvre, inv. no. 20030) of a similar theme. The present work was part of the founding purchase of the Metropolitan Museum of Art in 1871.