Experts have confirmed that an original work by the Flemish Baroque master Jacob Jordaens has been on display for years at the town hall of Saint-Gilles.
The painting had hung in the Alderman’s Office for quite some time. Before that it had been hung in a municipal museum for years, after a generous donation from an art collector in 1915. It had been esteemed several times by art connoisseurs, but they assumed it was a copy of a Jordaens, or perhaps a work of one of his disciples.
At the moment, it is authenticated as the oldest known version of a composition of “The Holy Family”, over 400 years old, which Jordaens will reuse in three other paintings held in the prestigious Metropolitan Museum in New York, the Hermitage of St. Petersburg and the Alte Pinakothek in Munich.
“The painting was attached to the wall at a height of three meters, so no one had ever turned it over,” art historian Constantin Pion, who personally made the discovery, told Bruzz. “When I did, I found on the back some indications that had never been noticed, such as a badge of the control committee of the city of Antwerp” which dates from around 1618.
After its restoration, the work will be shown at the end of next year at the Royal Museums of Fine Arts of Belgium in Brussels. The work will now benefit, within the Royal Institute of Artistic Heritage, from a one-year restoration funded by urban.brussels.
The Royal Museums of Fine Arts of Belgium announced the news on their Facebook page: Exciting news! A painting of the utmost importance by Antwerp Baroque Master Jacques Jordaens (1593-1678) has come to light at the Saint-Gillis City Hall in Brussels. This unprecedented discovery was made by the Royal Institute for Cultural Heritage (KIK-IRPA) during an inventory commissioned by urban.brussels in 2019. The precious wood panel has now been authenticated as the oldest known version of a composition of the « Holy Family » which Jordaens reiterated in at least three other panels.
This news has made quite some noise in the art world, even The Guardian published a story – Painting in Brussels hall turns out to be an original by Flemish master Jacob Jordaens.
Featured photo of the article: Screenshot from the video by MRBAB.