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History Painting of Van Dyck and Jordaens

Updated on October 26, 2019
Mark O Richardson profile image

Mark has always loved art. First it was drawing, then art history. His minor was in Art History


The use of form was a large part of the works of these two artists. To me, the works of Van Dyck and Jordaens appeared to vary in style at times with some of their different works.

Continence of Scipio, 1620-1621, Oxford, Christ Church
Continence of Scipio, 1620-1621, Oxford, Christ Church | Source

Van Dyck

Van Dyck was different from Rubens because he used more contrast with color and shading (Example: St. Jerome, Vaduz, Prince of Liechtenstein and The Continence of Scipio, 1620-1621, Oxford, Christ Church). Also, he used a lot of detail on the figures used (Ex. Christ Crowned by Thorns, 1620-1621, Madrid, Prado). The color and detail helps to tell the story and helps to bring things to life.

Christ Crowned by Thorns, 1620-1621, Madrid, Prado
Christ Crowned by Thorns, 1620-1621, Madrid, Prado | Source


Although his style follows Rubens, Jordaens was different than Rubens for many reasons. For one, because he was not as refined (2). He was greatly influenced by Caravaggio (1). One example of his Caravaggian contrast of light is the Adoration of the Shephers (1616, New York, Metropolitan Museum). He seems to concentrate less on the fully developed features of his subjects and more on the compositions themselves- the play of light, the color schemes (3). His figures were smooth, probably because of the brushstrokes (Example: Rape of Europa, Berlin, Staatliche Museen). And many of his figures seemed to be staring or gazing at the viewer, thus engaging them (Examples: Young Married Couple, Boston, Museum of Fine Arts and Roger Lowiter, 1635. Vorselaar, Baron de Borrekens).

Adoration of the Shepherds (1616, New York, Metropolitan Museum)
Adoration of the Shepherds (1616, New York, Metropolitan Museum) | Source

Comparing with Rubens

Rubens had more fleshy and muscular figures. His style evolved over time with experience. He used a lot of detail by using many figures that appear to be crammed together, especially when he used a lot of putti. The figures he created are more active than the figures used by Van Dyck and Jordaens.

Young Married Couple, Boston , Museum of Fine Arts
Young Married Couple, Boston , Museum of Fine Arts | Source


  1. Columbia Encyclopedia, Academic Search Elite, 2002. “Jacob Jordaens.”
  2. Funk & Wagnalls New World Encyclopedia, 2002. “Jacob Jordaens.”
  3. Spangler, Todd. “Flemish Drawings Focus of Show.” Deseret News, Sunday, April 7, 2002.
  4. Vlieghe, Hans. 1998. Flemish Art and Arcitecture 1585-1700. New Haven: Yale University Press. P. 35-40, 142.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2019 Mark Richardson


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