The “Fifth King”, Jacob Yordan – a description of the picture

The “Fifth King”, Jacob Yordan – a description of the picture
The “Fifth King”, Jacob Yordan - a description of the picture - 1

  • Posted by Jacob Yordans
  • Museum: Royal Museum, Brussels
  • Year: 1630s

Description of the picture :

The drinking king is Jacob Yordan. 1630s. Oil on canvas. 156 x 210 cm

   This picture is an example of the artist’s mature work and reflects his high skill in creating multi-figure compositions and masterful brush possession. The canvas depicts the climax of a fun celebration, which was called by the Flemish “the holiday of the three kings.”. Kings were understood as three Bible sorcerers who brought gifts to the baby Jesus. A holiday was celebrated on the day of worship of the Magi. For a simple people, this was an occasion to organize a fun drinking party, as the culmination of which was the best king of the holiday.

   The artist’s picture depicts the moment when the participants in the fun reached a turbulent stage of libations. There is clearly a noise and din, bagpipes howl, toasts shout, some man who drank and ate everything clearly beyond measure, sick in the corner. In another corner of the canvas, the drinking mother wipes the ass to her baby, kneeling it. At the same time, the child is clearly not interested in her, because she is not looking at him, but at the “king” of the holiday.

   The composition of the picture is very complex, it has many figures and various details. If you look closely, you can see the head of a toothless old woman looking out from behind a woman with a child, a dog jumping on a violently laughing young man with a mug in his hands, a man with an ugly face in a hood in the upper right corner of the canvas.

   Two young women sitting hugging pretty much choked, but had not yet lost their prudence and human appearance. One of them is looking with clear interest at a high-ranking young man with a well-challenged circle.

   And in the center of all this, the king sits – an elderly man with his gray head, beard and mustache. There is a graceful crown on his head, in his hands there is a glass of good wine, and in front of him is a table set with various dishes.

   This character is the semantic and compositional center of the whole work. He himself seems to be not actively involved in the general fun, but without him there would be no holiday as such.

   If you look at the picture, you can notice on it a lot of diagonal lines directed from the lower left to the upper right corner of the canvas. With almost round-trip arrangement of the figures around the king sitting in the center, such diagonals give the picture dynamics, make the movements more expressive, and the plot active.

   The unity of the composition is emphasized and approximate in color. The whole picture is made in warm, muffled shades of brown and golden with inks of non-small shades of a different color.