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Ein ,,Bohnenkönig“ im Stundenbuch. Zum Verhältnis von später Buch- und früher Genremalerei

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image of Oud Holland - Quarterly for Dutch Art History

The Bean King, better known by the cry uttered by fellow revellers: “The King drinks!”, is not only one of the most prominent but also one of the most enduring of all Netherlandish genre subjects, perhaps best known through the paintings of Jacob Jordaens and Jan Steen. Up to now it had been thought that the earliest versions go back to Marten van Cleve (1527-1581). However, it has hitherto gone unnoticed that a French Book of Hours, executed some decades earlier, contains a miniature illustrating the festivity which formed a ritual part of the celebrations of the feast of the Epiphany. But unlike Van Cleve, whose Bean King makes merry with fellow peasants, the unknown book illuminator situates the scene in a courtly milieu. This change of setting challenges our views about iconographic continuity and raises questions about the function and transformation of such images.


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