Virgin and child in a garland
Jacob Jordaens owed his fame as an artist mainly to his history paintings: pictures of mythological and religious subjects were his speciality.
After the death of Rubens and Van Dyck in 1640 and 1641, respectively, Jordaens was the most prominent painter in the Southern Netherlands.
Here he depicted Mary and the Christ Child in a trompe-l’oeil stone frame, which is surrounded by a luxuriant garland of flowers, fruit and vegetables. Sitting on a globe and with a skull and a serpent at his feet, the Child holds up the flaming heart of Caritas: love of God and of one’s neighbour. Thus the picture refers to Christ’s victory over sin and evil.
The garland – painted not by Jordaens, but by his fellow artists Adriaan van Utrecht and Frans Ykens – shows nature in its ideal state and thus symbolises the abundance of Creation.
Jacob Jordaens (1593-1678)
Virgin and child in a garland of flowers, fruit and vegetables
oil on canvas
On long-term loan from the Devaux Collection, Antwerp