Christ descended from the cross, circa 1650
Black pencil, red chalk and watercolor gouache highlights
Exterior framing line in red chalk and narrowed composition indicated in black pencil
35,2 x 26,2 cm
Glued in full on an old mount. Annotated on the reverse of the mounting in red chalk: "60//"
- The painting of the same subject from the former collection of the Duke of Malborough, painted around 1650, now in the Kunsthalle Hamburg (see R.-A. d'Hulst, "Jacob Jordaens (1593-1678), Paintings and Tapestries," Antwerp, 1993, no. A79, repr. p.245.
- A nearly square drawing for the Hamburg painting, without variants, in the National Gallery of Ireland (R.-A. d'Hulst, "Jordaens drawings," ed. Phaidon, London-New York, 1974, vol. III, no. A278, repr. vol. IV, fig. 294).
- Two paintings by Jordaens and his workshop with variants, held in the Prado Museum in Madrid and the Rubenshuis in Antwerp. The preparatory drawing for this composition with variants is in a private collection in London (see d'Hulst, op. cit. supra, no. A279, fig. 295)
- Several versions of a different composition (Church of the Beguinage in Antwerp, Hermitage in St. Petersburg, Museum of Fine Arts in Ghent), of which the preparatory drawing is preserved at the Institut Néerlandais in Paris (see d'Hulst, opus cited above, no. A274, fig.290).
In Mariette's catalog of Pierre Crozat's sale (April 10, 1741), there are two lots of colored drawings, including 857, described as "Twelve, idem (drawings), among which are still several colored Desseins, and among others a Descente de Croix." It is quite possible that the drawing mentioned corresponds to this drawing.
Our unpublished drawing has come down to us in a superb state of preservation. The freedom of the line and the numerous variations from the various painted and drawn versions lead us to believe that this is the master drawing of this series.
Indeed, the closest composition, the one in Hamburg, with its tight framing, is indicated in black stone in the window in our drawing. In addition, there are important changes in the positional details of the figures, in contrast to the Dublin drawing (d'Hulst, A274), whose figures fit the final picture.
Concerning the second, higher version (Prado and Antwerp painting), our drawing is far superior to the London drawing (d'Hulst, A279) in its nervousness and chromatic richness.
It is strange that the masterly composition was not chosen by the artist for a painting. Perhaps there was a discrepancy between the artist's inspiration, which gives free rein to flight, and the specific framing of a commission for a given place. This drawing is a wonderful testimony to the development of Jordaens' thinking from one of his drawings. The masterly composition echoes the remark by Mariette, who noted in the catalog of the Crozat sale: "As he understood the Composition part very well, the drawings of this skilful painter have a kind of merit that makes them sought after by the curious.