Jordaens was a Flemish painter born in 1593, son of a textile merchant in Antwerp. In 1607 at the age of fourteen the artist began his training in the studio of Adam van Noort, who had also taught Rubens. He was admitted to the guild of Saint Luke in 1615 as a waterschilder [watercolour painter]. By 1616 he was painting in oil and focused primarily on that technique from that point onwards. That same year Jordaens married Katharina van Noort, his master’s daughter.

Jordaens’ early work reveals the influence of Adam van Noort, Rubens, Abraham Janssens and Van Dyck. He soon evolved his own idiom, characterised by rich colour, strong light and volumetric quality of the figures, often in bold foreshortening. At the start of the 1630s Jordaens became a highly renowned figure within artistic circles in Antwerp, securing major commissions, particularly from the Church for altarpieces. In 1634 he worked under the direction of Rubens on the decorations for the Joyeuse Entrée of the Cardinal-Infante Ferdinand of Austria, governor of the Spanish Provinces. Jordaens and Rubens worked together again on paintings for the Torre de la Parada, Spain. After Rubens and Van Dyck’s deaths Jordaens became the most celebrated painter of the day. He received considerably more commissions, his reputation extended abroad and he was frequently summoned by European courts including the English, Spanish and Swedish. Jordaens never abandoned the use of watercolour and continued to use it for tapestry cartoons, the type of work for which he was most in demand throughout his career.

The most important commissions received by the artist from the 1650s onwards were for the decoration of the Oranjezaal in the Huis ten Bosch in The Hague, where he painted The Triumph of Frederick Henry and The Triumph of Time, both in situ, and three large lunettes for the Amsterdam Town Hall. Most of his output consists of religious, mythological and genre paintings, but Jordaens also produced a limited number of portraits.