Painting in Brussels hall turns out to be an original by Flemish master Jacob Jordaens | Art
A painting that hung in a city building in Brussels for decades has been authenticated as the work of the Flemish master Jacob Jordaens.
After analysis, including dendrochronology – dating work from the wooden panels they were painted on – experts determined that it was the oldest known version of the Holy Family of Jordaens, painted in the early 17th century.
The “incredible discovery” was made by the Royal Institute for Cultural Heritage with the help of international experts as part of an inventory of cultural assets in the Brussels district of Saint-Gilles.
The painting, considered a copy, has hung in the town planning and development office in Saint-Gilles town hall since the 1960s.
Jordaens, a leading Flemish Baroque painter who was contemporary of Peter Paul Rubens and Anthony van Dyck, created the work in 1617 or 1618 when he was only 25, the institute said in a statement.
The analysis showed that the wood used in the table with the baby Jesus with Joseph, Mary and their mother Saint Anne came from the same tree as that of Van Dyck.
The work was considered a copy and remained undisturbed in the city planning and development office for about 60 years. Photo: REX / Shutterstock
Art historian Constantin Pion said Van Dyck and Jordaens were “very likely” working in Rubens’ studio at the same time.
Jordaens used the same composition with variations in three other paintings of the Holy Family kept by the New York Metropolitan Museum, the Hermitage in Saint Petersburg and the Munich Alte Pinakothek.
The discovery provides “a kind of matrix of what he would do later,” said Pierre Dejemeppe, expert on Saint-Gilles’ cultural heritage.
“It will give us a better understanding of later versions,” he said.
After its restoration, the work will be shown in the Royal Museums of Fine Arts of Belgium in Brussels at the end of next year.