Jacob Jordaens I, The old Folks sing, the young Folks chirp, KMSKA, Antwerp


The art of genre painting that originates in the Netherlands is moralistic by nature and through this shows how things should not be. The genre has a connection with the contemporary literature. Three main types are distinguished: courtly society pieces, peasant (rural) paintings or Inn scenes and monumental society paintings.

In the courtly society pieces, in a main scene all sorts of people are in conversation with each other or dancing. In these works, the allusions are to love and lust.

In the picturesque and satirical peasant paintings and Inn scenes, the country folk or people from a lower social class are portrayed living it up or who are in a sullen atmosphere exhibiting all sorts of anger. This type goes back to the late-Middle Age tradition in which citizens distinguished themselves from the uncivilised peasants. The grand innovator of the art of genre painting in the Southern Netherlands is Adriaen Brouwer (1605/06-1638).

Under the influence of the Caravaggio movement, from about 1620 genre paintings come about that are painted monumentally large. Theodoor Rombouts (1597-1637) is the most important representative. Also, Jacob Jordaens I (1593-1678) exerts an important role with works such as The old Folks sing, the young Folks chirp and The King drinks (Royal Museums of Fine Arts of Belgium, Brussels)

Matthias Depoorter