Odysseus' ship stocked with provisions by Calypso

Jacob Jordaens was a gifted draughtsman and painter. Here he shows seven servants carrying supplies aboard Odysseus’ ship, under the gaze of the lovelorn nymph Calypso.

From the Print Cabinet's collection

After the deaths of Rubens (1640) and Van Dyck (1641), Jordaens was the most important remaining artist from Antwerp. This drawing is a fine example of his work as a draughtsman and painter.
 

Odyssey

After the fall of Troy, one of the places where Odysseus landed on his voyage was the distant island of Ogygia. Calypso, the daughter of Atlas, lived there. Odysseus was received with love. In the hope that he would be her husband, she held him prisoner. After seven years, on the orders of Zeus, who sent Hermes as a messenger, she had to let Odysseus go.

This drawing of Jordaens shows us seven servants bringing supplies aboard Odysseus’ ship under the watchful eye of the nymph Calypso. They are rolling a barrel up a gangplank into the ship and carrying food into it in platters or baskets on their heads.

This picture was created in three stages. First, Jordaens did a quick sketch in black chalk; then he fixed the outlines with some loose brushtip strokes; finally, he modelled everything with a brown wash and a multi-coloured bodycolour.
 

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