Jordaens is one of the best-known figures of the Antwerp school of painting in the 1600s.
During his highly successful career, his output included religious, mythological and allegorical subjects, many of which were produced with the help of his large workshop of apprentices and assistants.
In 1634 and again in 1637-38, he collaborated with Rubens on a number of the latter's projects. Following Ruben's death in 1640 and Van Dyck's in 1641, he came to be regarded as the leading painter in Antwerp and the southern Netherlands.
The composition of this work is derived from a monumental picture of St Christopher by Rubens, painted in 1614 as part of a large-scale altar piece in Antwerp, The Descent from the Cross.
The Ulster Museum's St Christopher is a powerful example of Flemish Baroque, in its blend of illusionism, light, colour and movement. Devotion to St Christopher, patron saint of travellers, became widespread by the Middle Ages.
Though removed from the Catholic Church Calendar in 1969 because of his doubtful historicity, his popularity continues unabated.
Image: Jacob Jordaens (1593-1678) St Christopher carrying the Christ Child. BELUM.U133. Painted c.1630. Click to enlarge.
- Purchased with the aid of a grant from the National Art Collections Fund, 1966.
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