Jacques Jordaens - Christ and the woman taken in adultery (1670)

Christ and the woman taken in adultery

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Because such a large number of drawings by Jacques Jordaens have survived, we know that his paintings were meticulously prepared. Ranging from sketchy crabbelingen (scribbles) to finished composition studies, they lead us through a design process, which was carefully managed by the artist and which was partially executed by the artist’s assistants. This drawing probably has a twofold use: as it is a detailed study for a painting, it may also have served to present a draft of the commissioned work to the client.

The work captures the moment when Christ, referring to the Law of Moses which states that adulterers should be punished, addresses the scribes and Pharisees with the words: “He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her” (John, 8:1-11). The accused woman, who, ashamed, has covered her face with a headscarf, is pictured to the left of Christ. The first strokes in red chalk have been redrawn in pen and ink to mark the contours of the figures more clearly or to correct them.

This drawing was studied for the AGORA Drawings on Web project.


Bibliographic description

Materials, technique and dimensions: black and red chalk, graphite, pen and brown ink, brown-grey wash, heightened with white gouache on beige paper. Frame lines in black chalk, 240 x 299 mm.

Inventory number: F 26443

Full description



Marchand d’art, Genève, 1966; sale, Bern (Kornfeld und Klipstein) 22 June 1973, lot 110, plate 13; Hugues (1929-2003) et Carmen (1934-1984) Fontanet, Geneva; donated by the Friends of the Royal Library, Brussels, 1976


Selective bibliography

Acquisitions majeures. Bibliothèque royale Albert I. Exercice 1976, pp. 27-28; Bibliothèque royale Albert I. Bulletin d’information bimensuel, vol. XXI, 10 November 1977, pp. 100-102; R. d’Hulst, Jordaens drawings, Brussels 1974, 4 vols., cat. A410; S. Van Ooteghem, Jacques Jordaens. Le Christ et la femme adultère, Bruxelles 2014



Jacob Jordaens. Tekeningen en grafiek, Antwerp (Musée Plantin-Moretus) 1978, cat. 80; Cinq années d’acquisitions 1974-1978, Brussels (Bibliothèque royale Albert Ier) 1979, cat. 4; P.P. Rubens & J. Jordaens, Handzeichnungen aus öffentlichen belgischen Sammlungen, Düsseldorf (Kunstmuseum) & Cologne (Wallraf-Richartz-Museum und Museum Ludwig) 1979, cat. 41; Vingt-cinq ans de mécénat des Amis de la Bibliothèque royale Albert I, Brussels (Bibliothèque royale Albert I) 1994, cat. 46 ; Entre les lignes. Dessins de maîtres anciens du Cabinet des Estampes de la Bibliothèque royale de Belgique, Brussels (Bibliothèque royale de Belgique) 2014-2015 (see publication S. Van Ooteghem in selective bibliography)