The J. Paul Getty Museum

A Scene in a Forge

Object Details


A Scene in a Forge


Jan Verbeeck (Flemish, active about 1548 - 1560)






Pen and brown ink

Object Number:



18.4 × 27.9 cm (7 1/4 × 11 in.)

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Object Description

In the crowded interior of a forge, the gaunt figure of a blacksmith looks over his shoulder to observe his apprentices, who wear aprons like their master. Engaged in a gluttonous rampage, some raid the cupboards, while another takes food from a woman with a begging child. Tools lie strewn across the floor. As the smith is distracted from his work, the object that he holds in the flame flies apart. Various spectators stop outside the windows and at the top of the stairs to observe the chaotic scene, and an old woman slumped on a chair in the corner symbolizes Laziness, indicating that the scene might represent the popular Netherlandish theme of Sorghelos Leven (carefree living). The moralizing story warns the viewer against the extravagant waste of time, effort, and goods.

Jan Verbeeck covered this sheet with dense hatching, enveloping every part of the surface with lines to effectively increase the sense of chaos in the scene.

16th Century Northern European Drawings (February 18 to May 2, 1992)
  • The J. Paul Getty Museum (Malibu), February 18 to May 2, 1992
Flemish Drawings of the Sixteenth and Seventeenth Centuries (August 29 to November 12, 1995)
  • The J. Paul Getty Museum (Malibu), August 29 to November 12, 1995
Peter Paul Rubens and the Art of Drawing in Flanders (August 29 to October 22, 2000)
  • The J. Paul Getty Museum at the Getty Center (Los Angeles), August 29 to October 22, 2000
Work and Play: Everyday Life in Drawings; 1520 - 1820 (July 31 to October 14, 2001)
  • The J. Paul Getty Museum at the Getty Center (Los Angeles), July 31 to October 14, 2001
A Light Touch: Exploring Humor in Drawing (September 23 to December 7, 2008)
  • The J. Paul Getty Museum at the Getty Center (Los Angeles), September 23 to December 7, 2008