Painting Human Flesh: Theory Compared to Jacob Jordaens’ Practice

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This paper will discuss the development and technique of painting flesh in a number of works by Jacob Jordaens (1593–1678), a highly successful Antwerp painter greatly influenced by Peter Paul Rubens. Jordaens relied heavily on Rubens in his formative years until around 1618, and on the experience that Rubens brought to Antwerp from Italy after working for aristocratic patrons in Mantua, Rome and other Italian cities (fig. 1). While Irene Schaudies in her essay for this volume focuses on the influence of Rubens’ models on Jordaens’ Bacchic figures, this essay shall attempt to demonstrate how Jordaens, later in his long career, structured his layers of flesh paints in a very different and somewhat less economical way compared to Rubens. The question of the extent to which Jordaens modelled his own treatment of human flesh on Rubens’ influence will be investigated in the context of contemporary written source material on the visual representation of flesh.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationRubens and the Human Body
EditorsCordula van Wyhe
Number of pages26
Place of PublicationTurnhout
PublisherBrepols Publishers
Publication dateJun 2018
Commissioning bodyUniversity of York
ISBN (Print)978-2-503-57775-3
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2018
EventRubens and the Human Body - University of York, York, United Kingdom
Duration: 17 Sept 201018 Sept 2010


ConferenceRubens and the Human Body
LocationUniversity of York
Country/TerritoryUnited Kingdom
Internet address
SeriesThe Body in Art (BIA)

Bibliographical note

This book is the first comprehensive investigation of the most paradigmatic aspect of Baroque visual culture: the Rubensian nude.
Did contemporary audiences recognise the sensuously painted ‘Rubensian body’ as a particular, if not peculiar, artistic repertoire? How can we best understand seventeenth-century practises of reading and viewing the Rubensian body? Can our criteria for eroticism be linked with that of Rubens? Was the body a ‘fluid’ category for Rubens and where does the boundary of the human body lie? It is hoped that these investigative questions will lead to a detailed evaluation about the paradigmatic status of the Rubensian body and whether we are justified in stressing its singularity within seventeenth-century Flemish and the broader early modern European visual culture.

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