(b. 1575, Antwerpen, d. 1632, Antwerpen)

Scaldis and Antwerpia

Oil on panel, 174 x 308 cm
Koninklijk Museum voor Schone Kunsten, Antwerp

In addition to his favourite allegorical scenes, Abraham Janssens also painted religious and mythological themes. Janssens was slightly younger than Rubens, and for a time was his equal. After his visit to Italy, however, Rubens quickly surpassed him. Janssens painted Scaldis and Antwerpia for the State Room or 'Staetencamer' of Antwerp Town Hall. This decorative, allegorical work, commissioned by the city authorities, originally adorned the chimney breast, and consists of a paean of praise to the city's main artery, the River Scheldt. The sharp contrast between light and dark recalls Caravaggio, who had a great influence upon many of the artists of the time.