In 1628, Jordaens is honored to be chosen with Rubens and van Dyck as one of three painters of church altars for the Augustinian church in Antwerp. Each artist makes a separate work but their simultaneous execution brings some overall homogeneity.
Following this success, Jordaens is commissioned in 1630 for an altar piece in the Benedictine monastery of St Martin in Tournai, on the theme of exorcism.
Preparatory drawings are known. One of them, associated with the beginning of the creative process, is arranged around a diagonal pointing to the healing saint. This design is directly inspired by a miracle painted ten years before by Rubens. The baroque crowd is holding the possessed man in the lower part of the image.
An oil on canvas 122 x 87 cm dated 1630 and consistent with this first drawing has just surfaced. It is estimated $ 4M for sale by Sotheby's in New York on January 28, lot 27.
The Benedictines were demanding about the compliance of the images with their religious interpretation of the stories and this version with a stiff and domineering saint did not suit their purpose. In the version that was finally accepted for the monastery, St Martin is leaning over the crowd. The painting for sale is probably a modello made to facilitate the choice of the composition by the patrons.
An analysis by infrared reflectography shows that the face of one of the assistants of the saint, which resembles another portrait of one of the leading monks of that monastery, overpainted a younger head. It opens the interesting hypothesis that the artist hoped a new order benefiting from his preliminary work, more spectacular and closer to Rubens.
I invite you to watch the video shared by Sotheby's.
SOLD for $ 4.7M including premium