Magnus, Hannelore. Hiëronymus Janssens (1624-1693), the Antwerp 'à la Mode' Painter: Fashion and Dance in Southern Netherlandish Genre Painting, 1645-1685. 2 Vols. PhD diss., KU Leuven, 2015.
Online available (Vol. 1 only) through Lirias, the digital repository for KU Leuven Association research: https://limo.libis.be/primo-explore/search?vid=Lirias
This dissertation focuses on the genre paintings by the Antwerp artist Hiëronymus Janssens (1624-1693). Janssens is by far the only painter from the second half of the seventeenth century in the Southern Netherlands who specialised in the depiction of dance, corporality, music and leisure of society. In contrast to his fellow Northern Netherlandish genre painters, there has barely been any scholarly attention paid to this Antwerp painter thus far. Apart from seventeenth-century inventories and archival documents, the oldest sources that discuss Hiëronymus Janssens in-depth are written in the eighteenth century. It is these eighteenth-century documents that mention his nicknames for the first time: Janssens, ‘the dancer’ or Janssens, ‘the à la mode painter’. Both of these nicknames have been useful guides in our understanding of the oeuvre of Janssens. In this dissertation, Janssens’ depictions of dance and fashion are the main focus in the iconographical parts (chapters 4 and 5). This research transgresses the boundaries of art history, as I have made use of and contributed to cultural history and the history of costume in the second half of the seventeenth century in the Southern Netherlands. As Janssens’ paintings are depictions of the ideal aristocratic life of the seventeenth-century elite, the contextual background of dance and fashion of the elite is discussed in-depth as well. In seventeenth-century Antwerp, the urban elite (wealthy people who had political and/or economical power and (consequently) high social prestige) consisted of members of the commercial elite with aristocratic aspirations (‘homines novi’), or the new nobility who originated from this mercantile social group who had been recently ennobled (and thus have reached the aspired goal). The culture of these groups in society who also tied themselves through marriage with the aristocracy, had many similarities (cultural osmosis). The members of the urban elite (both the mercantile elite and the recently ennobled) paid a lot of attention to outward symbols of their (aspired) aristocratic lifestyle, such as country houses, riding in coaches, starting an art collection and displaying connoisseurship, etc. Among these symbols, buying expensive and fashionable dress and learning how to dance elegantly and how to adopt the correct, elegant posture, also played an important role (beingagrave; la mode’). Precisely by stressing these outward symbols in his paintings, Janssens appears to have stressed that these social layers of society, who needed the outward symbols most, were represented in his paintings (as they were also depicted in his painted art galleries). Nevertheless, not only such a ‘positive approach’ was present in his oeuvre; the aristocratic character of the figures in Janssens’ brothel scenes and depictions of the story of the prodigal son undoubtedly also stressed the negative aspects of dance and fashion (similar to the many condemnations of moralists). By depicting ‘elegant company scenes’ and such moralising brothel scenes, Janssens played with both the positive and negative ideas that existed about dance and fashion.