Hans von Aachen / Job in Misfortune
The painting is undoubtedly important in spite of a certain lack of balance in the brushwork. What points to van Aachen’s authorship is not only the invention but also treatment of the main figures, especially the figures of Job and his wife. One of van Aachen’s most characteristic figures is a woman with a striking hairstyle which can be seen in many variations in his depic- tions of goddesses and in allegories where she is a young woman with fine features, whose inspiration was the artist’s wife Regina. Also remarkable is the male figure at the woman’s side, which, by analogy, can be taken to be an almost sarcastic caricature of van Aachen’s self-portrait. The technical execution of parts of the picture are less painstaking. This applies not only to the treatment of the man holding the child, but also the turbaned man, Satan and above all the landscape rendition of the entire background. The painting depicts fairly faithfully the story told in the Old Testament book — in spite of the advice he receives from several of his friends and in spite of the trials he has undergone in his life, Job remains faithful to the Lord. Nevertheless the older iconographic concept, such as the Renaissance version of melancholy is abandoned and it is more like a polemical disputation that is clearly in line with post-Tridentine humanism. In this allegorical interpretation, Job represents the church and his opponents the reformation movement.