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Studio of Jacob Jordaens Antwerp 1593-1678
PROPERTY FROM A PRIVATE COLLECTION 
Studio of Jacob Jordaens Antwerp 1593-1678

As the old sing, so pipe the young

Details
Studio of Jacob Jordaens Antwerp 1593-1678
As the old sing, so pipe the young
inscribed 'Soo d'Oude Soeng, Soo Pypte d'Ioenge' (on the cartouche, upper center)
oil on canvas
57 x 78 in. 144.8 x 198.1 cm.
Provenance
with Galerie Internationale, The Hague, circa 1930.
Anonymous Sale; Van Marle & Bignell, The Hague, 25 January 1944.

Lot Essay

The subject of 'As the old sing, so pipe the young', was one of the most popular in Jordaen's oeuvre. His first interpretation, which was engraved by Schelte à Bolswert (Holl. 293), dates from 1638 (Musées Royaux des Beaux-Arts, Antwerp; R.A. d'Hulst, Jacob Jordaens, 1982, p. 167, fig. 137) and was followed by various versions, both by himself and by his studio, in the following decades. The present painting can be dated to the 1660s and is a variant of the painting signed and dated 1661, recorded in the collection of R.V. de Ramée, Roquebrune/Cap Martin, 1965 (photo in the Rijksbureau voor Kunsthistorisches Documentatie, The Hague).

By using a well-known proverb as the subject matter for a painting, Jordaens followed Pieter Brueghel I, who was the first to paint a visual encyclopedia of proverbs. As M. Sullivan notes ('Brueghel's Proverbs: Art and Audience in the Northern Renaissance', Art Journal, 1991, pp. 431-66), Brueghel was influenced by Erasmus, for whom proverbs were a legitimate field of humanist study. Other writers followed, for instance, Jacob Cats in his Spieghel van den Ouden en den Nieuwen Tijdt, 1632, where proverbs and their moralizing meaning are explained according to Calvinist thinking at the time. As such, 'As the old ones sing, so pipe the young ones' is explained as a lesson to parents to set a proper example to their children. Jordaens, who turned to Protestantism late in his life, and who had married the daughter of the Protestant painter Adam van Noort, was certainly inspired by Cats when taking up the present subject.

As pointed out by K. Nelson ('Jacob Jordaens: Family Portraits', Leids Kunsthistorisch Jaarboek, 1989, p. 112), Jordaens chose to depict the subject as a family reunion, using members of his own family as models for the main protagonists. Thus the figure of the grandfather in the center can be identified as the artist's father-in-law, Adam van Noort, for which there is a preliminary drawing in the Boymans-Van Beuningen Museum, Rotterdam. Jordaens illustrated the subject literally: the old generation sings, and the younger ones play the flute. He substitutes the word piepen (=pipe) with pypen (=playing the flute). He creates an atmosphere of good hearted and joyous festivity, in which the moralizing ideas are layered within the scene.

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