Jacob Jordaens (I): Portrait of Catharina Behaghel, Rogier Le Witer and Magdalena de Cuyper (1635)

(Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam, The Netherlands)

Three amazing portraits by the Flemish artist Jacob Jordaens (I) (1593-1678). Depicted from left to right:

- Magdalena de Cuyper (...-after 1642), mother of Rogier Le Witer and widow of Bartholomeus Le Witer (...-1612/1613). Her husband was a silk-merchant and after his death she continued the family business. On the painting she is wearing a black widow cap and is holding a bible. The flower next top her is a tulip, symbol of transience. The statue behind her is a mourning herma. The statue and the tulip indicates that Magdalena is a widow.

- Catharina Behaghel (1597-1666), the wife of Rogier Le Witer. Her father was Antoni Behaghel who was an important official in Antwerp. Catharina and Rogier married on 16 november 1614 and got 4 children. The couple eventually lived in what now is the street Minderbroedersrui 15 and 17 in Antwerp in the house 'De Gulden Struys' - a house, office and warehouse in 1. At the time of this painting she was 38 years old.

- Rogier Le Witer (1591-1678), a wealthy silk-merchant in Antwerp, Grand Almoner of Antwerp and churchmaster of the Cathedral of Our Lady in Antwerp. On the table on the left is an offering plate with the text 'Aelemos 1623’, the year in which took up his office as Grand Almoner. The small statue of a captive indicates that the collected alms were intended for prisoners. The painting also mentions the age of Rogier Le Witer at the time of this painting: 'AETATIS.44' - he is 44 years old.

The original order in which these three paintings hung is unknown. Traditionally in European portraits the man is situated on the heraldic right (the 'strong position') of the woman but looking at the composition of the three paintings (how the persons are standing/ sitting, the chairs and the blue background) this is probably not correct in this case. The order which i am showing is proposed by Rijksmuseum. Painting from 1635