Search the Collection
An Allegory of Fruitfulness
  • Jacob Jordaens (1593 - 1678)
  • An Allegory of Fruitfulness
  • Southern Netherlands
  • Date: 1620–9
  • Object Type: Painting
  • Medium: Oil on canvas
  • Image size: 200.7 x 229 cm
  • Overall size: 220 x 248.7 x 8 cm
  • Inv: P120
  • Location: East Drawing Room
Copy and paste the URL below to share this page:
Further Reading
  • In this unusual and enigmatic composition, a group of satyrs and humans of various ages are gathered around a woman, who holds a large cornucopia. The grapes proffered by other figures invoke the hedonistic world of the wine god, Bacchus, who according to ancient Roman mythology presides over the Autumn harvest. The central figure points to two children, leaving us in no doubt that this is a celebration of Nature's bounty. Jordaens probably did not have a single literary source in mind, but rather intended to draw out the close association of peace and fecundity, particularly at a time when the war-torn Netherlands was enjoying a period of peace (known as the Twelve Year's Truce).

    Thanks to Sir Richard Wallace, who acquired the painting in 1872, our Allegory of Fruitfulness is a very rare example of a mythological painting by Jordaens in a British collection. The artist painted the subject twice: another version is in Brussels, at the Royal Museum of Fine Arts. The main difference between the compositions is that the cornucopia-bearing woman is seen from the front in our painting, and from the back in the Brussels picture. A major conservation project recently revealed that Jordaens originally painted her with her back turned in the same way as in the Brussels painting, and then repainted her to show her in her present position.