Jan THOMAS (van Yperen)
Ypres, baptised on 5 February 1617–Vienna, 6 September 1678
Flemish painter and printmaker
Jan Thomas was probably a student or collaborator of Peter Paul Rubens (1577–1640). He entered the Antwerp Guild of St Luke in 1639–40. After Rubens’s death in 1640 he was called upon to complete and retouch works left in Rubens’s studio. He continued to be active in Antwerp until c. 1654, then worked in Mainz (1654–6) and Frankfurt (1658) before settling in Vienna to enter the service of Archduke Leopold Wilhelm (1614–62) and the Emperor Leopold I (1640–1705), who reigned 1658–1705. Thomas remained in Vienna for the rest of his life, painting portraits as well as pictures with secular and religious subjects in a rather official, courtly style. He also produced a number of prints.
Heinz 1967, p. 155; Hairs 1977, pp. 188–90; Van Tatenhove 1995; Vlieghe 1996d; Galavics 2006–7; Saur, cix, 2020, p. 16 (U. B. Wegener); Ecartico, no. 7374: http://www.vondel.humanities.uva.nl/ecartico/persons/7374 (April 8, 2017); RKDartists&, no. 77186: https://rkd.nl/en/explore/artists/77186 (Dec. 1, 2019).
Attributed to Jan Thomas
DPG123 – A Bucolic Couple
canvas, 114 x 168 cm
?Charles-Alexandre de Calonne sale, Michael Bryan, London, 27 April 1795 (Lugt 5299a), lot 73 (‘Jordeans [sic] – A Shepherd and Shepherdess, with Cattle in a Landscape, very capital, equal to the finest works of Rubens’; annotation on V&A copy of catalogue, ‘25.0.’);1 ?Charles Joseph, Graaf van Lichtervelde sale, Christie’s, 30 May 1801 (Lugt 6276), lot 26 (‘Jacob Jordaens – A Shepherd and Shepherdess’); bt Morris [perhaps related to Mrs Desenfans] for £19 8s.;2 Bourgeois Bequest, 1811; Britton 1813, p. 27, no. 277 (‘Unhung / no. 8, Bacchanal & Nymph, cattle & Landse C[anvas] Rubens’; 4'10" x 6'8").
Cat. 1817, p. 9, no. 146 (‘SECOND ROOM – East Side; A Shepherd and Shepherdess; Rubens’); Haydon 1817, p. 384, no. 146;3 Cat. 1820, p. 9, no. 146; Cat. 1830, no. 162; Jameson 1842, ii, p. 468, no. 162 (Rubens);4 Denning 1858 and 1859, no. 162;5 Lavice 1867, p. 181 (Rubens no. 5);6 Sparkes 1876, p. 150 (Rubens);7 Richter & Sparkes 1880, p. 85, no. 162 (Jordaens);8 Richter & Sparkes 1892 and 1905, p. 31, no. 123; Cook 1914, pp. xx, 72, no. 123 (School of Rubens);9 Cook 1926, p. 68; Cat. 1953, p. 35; Murray 1980a, p. 299 (School of Rubens); Beresford 1998, p. 238 (attributed to Jan Thomas); Jonker & Bergvelt 2016, pp. 268–9 (attributed to Jan Thomas); RKD, no. 283807: https://rkd.nl/en/explore/images/283807 (Dec. 2, 2019).
Plain-weave linen canvas. Glue-paste lined. The edges of the painting are filled and retouched. The ground of the painting is tending to blister, but the condition of the paint film itself is reasonable: the paint has been flattened due to lining, but there is no cupping. Some areas have suffered abrasion due to past overcleaning, for example the flesh and the white drapery. Fairly widespread retouching was carried out during the recent restoration, particularly in the figures, due to the disruptive nature of the wear and cracks. Previous recorded treatment: mid-19th century, lined and re-stretched on new stretcher; 2005, cleaned and retouched, N. Ryder.
1a) Jan Thomas, The Sleeping Diana, panel, 34.5 x 49.5 cm. Louvre, Paris, M.I. 973 .10
1b) Jan Thomas, Venus and Adonis as Lovers (formerly Cephalus and Procris), panel, 41 x 68.8 cm. Present whereabouts unknown (Bonhams, 5 Dec. 2007, lot 9, with previous provenance) .11
1c) Jan Thomas, St Sebastian, panel, 83 x 61 cm. Musée des Beaux-Arts, Angers, 366 .12
1d) Jan Thomas, Bacchus and Ariadne, canvas, 111 x 94 cm. Musée des Beaux-Arts, Bordeaux, Bx E 264.13
1e) Jan Thomas, A Landscape with Shepherds and Shepherdesses resting beneath a Tree, canvas, 52.7 x 68 cm. Present whereabouts unknown (Bonhams, 9 Dec. 2009, lot 39).14
1f) Jan Thomas, St Sebastian succoured by St Irene, oil on paper, mounted as a drawing, 27.7 x 38.8 cm. Ashmolean Museum, Oxford, WA1863.287.15
1g) Jan Thomas, Judith and Holofernes, signed and dated Joannes Tomas fecit 1654, canvas, 130 x 165 cm. Galerie Jan de Maere, Brussels (27 Jan. 2012).
2) Jacques Jordaens I, Mercury and Argus, canvas, 202 x 241 cm. Musée des Beaux-Arts, Lyon, H 679 .16
3a) Peter Paul Rubens, Pastoral Scene (Coridon and Silvia), c. 1638–9, panel, 162.3 x 134.5 cm. Alte Pinakothek, Munich, 328 .17
3b) (School of) Peter Paul Rubens and Osias Beert I, Pausias and Glycera (A Scholar inspired by Nature?), c. 1610–20, canvas, 203.2 x 194.3 cm. The John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art, Sarasota, Fla., SN 219.18
4) Jan van den Hoecke, Pastoral Scene (Granida and Daifilo?), canvas, 169.5 x 235.6 cm. Musée des Beaux-Arts, Valenciennes, P.Y.24; Inv. 1211; M.R. 1005.19
5a) Pieter Crijnse Volmarijn, Offering to Pan, panel, 38.5 x 32 cm. Present whereabouts unknown (private collection, Charlottenburg, 1933).20
5b) Pieter Crijnse Volmarijn, The Lovesick Woman, panel, 33 x 31.5 cm. Present whereabouts unknown (M. J. Goudstikker, Amsterdam, 1928).21
6a) Jacques Jordaens, Shepherd, with a Shepherdess pouring out Milk, black chalk, watercolour and bodycolour, 30 x 44.2 cm. Kupferstichkabinett, Staatliche Museen, Berlin, 1200 .22
6b) (modello for no. 6c) Jacques Jordaens, Declaration of Love in a Landscape, pen and brown ink, brown and grey wash, heightened with bodycolour over a sketch in black chalk, retraced, 29.3 x 28.3 mm. Albertina, Vienna, 8462.23
6c) Jacob Neefs after Jacques Jordaens (6b), Coridon and Silvia, engraving, 33.2 (trimmed) x 30 cm. BM, London, 1875,0710.449.24
7) William Holman Hunt, The Hireling Shepherd, 1851, canvas, 76.4 x 109.5 cm. City Art Gallery, Manchester, 1896.29 .25
8) Genius, colossal Roman statue, over 4 m. high. Museo Archeologico Nazionale, Naples .26
attributed to Jan Thomas
canvas, oil paint 114 x 168 cm
Dulwich (London), Dulwich Picture Gallery, inv./cat.nr. DPG123
panel, oil paint 34,5 x 49,5 cm
Paris, Musée du Louvre, inv./cat.nr. M.I. 973
Venus and Adonis as lovers
panel, oil paint 41 x 68,8 cm
Bonhams (London (England)) 2007-12-05, nr. 9
panel, oil paint 83 x 61 cm
Angers, Musée des Beaux-Arts d'Angers, inv./cat.nr. MBA-J366J1881P
Jacob Jordaens (I)
Mercury draws his sword to behead Argus (Ovid, Metamorphosis I, 568-723), c. 1620-1623
canvas, oil paint 202 x 241 cm
Lyon, Musée des Beaux-Arts de Lyon, inv./cat.nr. H 679
Peter Paul Rubens
Pastoral Scene (Corydon and Silvia), c. 1638
panel (oak), oil paint 162,3 x 134,5 cm
Munich, Alte Pinakothek, inv./cat.nr. 328
The authorship of DPG123 is problematic. Its first recorded appearance may be in 1795 in a sale of the collection of Noel Desenfans’ friend Charles-Alexandre de Calonne (1734–1802; Controller-General of Finances in France 1783–7), where it was attributed to Jacques Jordaens I (1593–1678). It was then on the London art market before appearing in the 1813 inventory of Sir Francis Bourgeois’ collection, attributed to Rubens. A feature related to Jordaens is the cows seen from behind, as in his Mercury and Argus in Lyon (Related works, no. 2) . Jordaens used the subject of DPG123 in a drawing in Berlin (Related works, no. 6a) , where the woman pours milk out of a vessel. The theme of the couple can be found, with some variations, in a picture by Rubens in Munich, which is according to Renger a scene of Coridon and Silvia (Related works, no. 3a)  – the reason why DPG123 was ascribed to Rubens, or his school. In 1997 Hans Vlieghe tentatively suggested an attribution to Jan Thomas,27 noting similarities with a painting of Bacchus and Ariadne in Bordeaux (Related works, no. 1d), a suggestion also made by Arnout Balis (oral communication, 1997).
It is difficult to get a clear idea of Thomas’s style. His works and those of other pupils of Rubens, including Thomas Willeboirts Bosschaert (1613/14–54), Jan Boeckhorst (1604/5–68) and Abraham van Diepenbeeck (1596–1675), are often confused. The figure types are not consistent with those of the Thomas / Willeboirts Bosschaert / Boeckhorst / Van Diepenbeeck group. Comparison with the Bacchus and Ariadne in Bordeaux (Related works, no. 1d) is not convincing, as that has more in common, in the Mannerist treatment of the figures, with the work of Pieter Crijnse Volmarijn (1629–79), a Rotterdam follower of Jordaens (Related works, nos 5a, 5b). Closest to DPG123 is a St Sebastian in Angers (Related works, no. 1c) : the modelling of the very Rubenesque saint is close to that of the man, and the landscape in both paintings looks like the landscapes of Jan Wildens (1584/6–1653), as in many paintings of the ‘Thomas’ group. The face of the woman seems to have only a slight similarity to that of Judith in a painting by Jan Thomas (Related works, no. 1g). A small correspondence is that between the glistening metal of the milk vessel in DPG123 and the armour in the St Sebastian; that is traditionally attributed to Jordaens, but a photograph in the RKD bears the annotation ‘Thomas’ by B. A. Renckens. Between DPG123 and a Pastoral Scene in Valenciennes (Related works, no. 4) there are close similarities in the figures of the man, and some in the figures of the women. The complexity of the œuvres of Rubens’s pupils is clearly displayed here: the most recent attribution of this painting on the Joconde website is to Jan van den Hoecke (1611–51), but it was earlier given to Boeckhorst, Theodoor van Thulden (1606–69) and Van Diepenbeeck. While ‘Unknown pupil of Jordaens’ would be a safer attribution for DPG123, Vlieghe’s and Balis’s attribution to Thomas is worth consideration.
The traditional title of DPG123, A Shepherd and Shepherdess, needs to be re-thought. The woman’s yellow silk dress is unlikely to have been worn by a shepherdess, and the man’s costume is quite extravagant, consisting of animal skins and unusual boots with ornamental hare heads – similar to those of an Antique statue (Related works, no. 8)  – suggesting that the painting was intended to illustrate some Arcadian tale. There are some light provocative elements, such as the pole in the hand of the woman (as in Rubens’s painting in Munich), the phallic spout of the vessel, and the pipes of the bagpipe behind the man.
In Classical literature two figures like these are often called Coridon and Silvia.28 The theme was quite popular in 16th- and 17th-century art: there are prints by Hendrick Goltzius (1558–1617), Jacob Matham (1571–1631) and Crispijn de Passe I (1564–1637), which might have influenced both Rubens and his pupils, including the artist of DPG123. In the Northern Netherlands the theme was often treated by the Utrecht School, in both paintings and prints. Silvia is often called a courtesan, which would explain the phallic elements in DPG123.29
Mrs Jameson noted that a similar picture appeared in the posthumous inventory of Rubens’s collection, but that was probably the painting by Rubens now in Munich, once in the collection of Frederik Hendrik, Prince of Orange (1584–1647).30
In the 19th century William Holman Hunt (1827–1910) showed that the Pre-Raphaelites were inspired not only by Italian paintings made before the time of Raphael (1483–1520) but also, sometimes, by 17th-century Flemish ones, as Cook had already noted in 1914 (Related works, no. 7) .
Jacob Jordaens (I)
Shepherd, with a Shepherdess pouring out Milk
paper, black chalk, aquarel paint (watercolor), gouache (material/technique) 300 x 442 mm
Berlin, Kupferstichkabinett der Staatlichen Museen zu Berlin, inv./cat.nr. 1200
Naples, Museo Archeologico Nazionale di Napoli
William Holman Hunt
The Hireling Shepherd, dated 1851
canvas, oil paint 76,4 x 109,5 cm
Manchester (England), Manchester City Art Gallery, inv./cat.nr. 1896.29
1 GPID (11 March 2013).
3 ‘Sir P. P. Rubens. A Shepherd and Shepherdess, telling their tender tales of love under the shelter of a tree, with groups of cattle. An early work of Rubens.’
4 ‘It appears to be the same picture which was in the possession of Rubens when he died; No. 90 in the catalogue of his effects.’
5 1858: ‘Cf: Smith 575; Engraved by Bolswert – Sold from the Collection of M: Chevalier Domburg of Amsterdam for 400 florins = £36 in 1710; The Shepherd probably a portrait of Jordaens.’ GPID (11 March 2013): in the catalogue the scene is described as Een Bachinael van Jordaens, meede een kapitael stuk (A bacchanal by Jordaens, also a capital piece); the seller is Johan Cau, Ridder Heer van Domburg, Amsterdam, 7 May 1710 (Lugt 224), lot 7. For the print by Bolswert see note 14 below.
6 Le berger entreprenant. La jeune fille se défend sans colère (petite nature). Plus loin, vaches. La bergère est La Fermann; mais celui qui l’a peinte n’est pas son mari. (The enterprising shepherd. The young girl defends herself without anger (weakling). Further away, cows. The shepherdess is la Fourment; but the person who painted her is not her husband.)
7 He quotes Mrs Jameson: see note 4 above.
8 ‘An early work of J. Jordaens. The shepherd is most probably a portrait of the artist, and the shepherdess possibly a portrait of his wife. Formerly ascribed to Rubens.’
9 p. 72: ‘… it seems probable that he [Holman Hunt] had this picture in mind, consciously or subconsciously, when he designed the composition of his “Idle Shepherd” (now at Manchester).’ See Related works, no. 7.
12 RKD, no. 295363: https://rkd.nl/en/explore/images/295363 (Sept. 24, 2019); see also https://www.photo.rmn.fr/archive/14-549824-2C6NU0AG8I48P.html (Sept. 19 , 2019); Valotaire 1920, p. 23 (Jacob Jordaens).
13 Joconde (8 March 2013).
14 This painting is related to Lucas van Uden after Peter Paul Rubens, Landscape with a Rainbow, c. 1635, panel, 63.7 x 84 cm, Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna, GG–681, www.khm.at/de/object/0004d0b59e/ (Jan. 7, 2019). The Rubens is in the Hermitage, St Petersburg, 482. See also the engraving by Schelte Adamsz. Bolswert after Rubens (one of the series of twenty small landscapes), 33.7 x 45.7 cm, BM, London, 1954,1103.389; see https://www.britishmuseum.org/collection/object/P_1954-1103-389 (July 13, 2020).
17 RKD, no. 295364: https://rkd.nl/en/explore/images/295364 (Sept. 24, 2019); See also https://www.sammlung.pinakothek.de/en/artist/peter-paul-rubens/schaeferszene-silvia-und-coridon (Sept. 19, 2019); Jaffé 1989, p. 370, no. 1370; Steingräber 1986, p. 464, no. 328 (U. Krempel). See also Renger & Denk 2002, pp. 444–7, no. 328; Renger 1994, pp. 180–81, 184 (the subject is Coridon and Silvia). Several copies of this painting exist, including Peter Paul Rubens and workshop, Pastoral Scene, canvas, 114.5 x 91 cm, Hermitage, St Petersburg, GE 493, Gritsay & Babina 2008, pp. 284–86, no. 330 (N. Gritsay); and attr. Jan Wildens, Pastoral Scene, panel, 53.7 x 66.4 cm, The Earl of Wemyss and March, Gosford House, Adler 1980, p. 113, no. G 92.
19 Joconde (March 4, 2013).
20 Held 1983b, p. 103, fig. 1.
21 D’Hulst 1970, p. 17 (fig. 12).
23 ibid., i, pp. 285–86, iii, pl. 213, no. A198.
24 https://www.britishmuseum.org/collection/object/P_1875-0710-449 (July 13, 2020); see also RPK, Amsterdam, RP-P-OB-23.953. Hollstein 1956, no. 26; D’Hulst 1993, B85.
25 RKD, no. 295365: https://rkd.nl/en/explore/images/295365 (Dec. 2, 2019); see also https://manchesterartgallery.org/collections/title/?mag-object-195 (Dec. 2, 2019). For Cook's recognition of the connection, see note 9 above.
26 RKD, no. 295400: https://rkd.nl/en/explore/images/295400 (Sept. 27, 2019); Bober & Rubinstein 1986, pp. 221–2, no. 188. This sculpture would have been known in the North through drawings (or prints), such as a drawing by Jan Gossart in Leiden: ibid., no. 188b.
27 Letter from Hans Vlieghe to Richard Beresford, 3 July 1997 (DPG123 file).
28 Renger 1994, pp. 180–81, 184 (note 33). Theocritus (Idylls IV) calls the man a cowherd, Vergil (Eclogue II) a shepherd.
29 Kettering 1983, pp. 51–2.
30 In the French version of the inventory, ‘no. 94. Vn berger caressant sa bergere’; in the English version, ‘A Shepheard with a shepheardess’. For these see Belkin & Healy 2004, pp. 329–30; Jaffé 1989, p. 370, no. 1370; Smith 1829–42, ii (1830), p. 68, no. 200.