Fêtes and Folly: The King Drinks

7:00 AM

Jacob Jordaens, The King Drinks, 1638
By TROY WORKMAN

Members of the royal court cheer,"The king drinks!" The hullabaloo intensifies in drunkenness. The king is in reality, just a common man. But for the evening, he is the almighty ruler. The lucky man found a hidden bean in his tart, thus earning the title of king for the evening. Filling his royal court with what seems to be the rowdiest Belgian crew, the king buries himself deeper in gluttony.

The temporary king is actually Jordaen's step father and fellow painter, Adam van Noort. Beyond intoxicated, every person appears to be eternally trapped in a humiliating pose. From the vomiting man plummeting to the floor, to the mother wiping her horrified child's rear for no reason, even the audience can smell the reek of alcohol. Jordaens certainly learned his lesson from this painting, as he later in life became a devout Protestant. Located just above the king, a sign in Dutch reads "in een vry gelachllst goet gast syn," or in English "Where there is a free meal it is good to be a guest." Irony presents itself in the fact that these people are wasting to excess and are not appreciating their privilege as guests.

*** Editor's Note: Students developed the topic of Fêtes and Folly to chronicle elegant celebrations, bad dates, late nights, or other things related to that time in Spring where barbaric yawps can be heard from backyards, beaches, or the more familiar rooftop. Enjoy their revelry, cheeky overstatement, and occasional tales of ribaldry over the next couple of weeks.

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