'As The Old Ones Sing, So The Young Ones Pipe’

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'As The Old Ones Sing, So The Young Ones Pipe’ about 1644
This is Jordaens’s design for the first in a series of eight tapestries depicting popular proverbs or sayings. He received the commission in September 1644, and Jordaens retained control of exactly which Netherlandish proverbs he would illustrate. The saying ‘As the Old Ones Sing, so the Young Ones Pipe’ warns parents to set a good example to their children, as whatever they do, their children will copy. Moralising sayings such as this were popular in the region in the seventeenth century, and had their roots in biblical commands. People were accustomed to the imagery used to illustrate proverbs, and would have recognised the symbolic use of items to reinforce the point. For example, the jug on the table represents temperance.

Glossary Open


When an individual or organisation employs an artist to execute a particular project, the process and the resulting work are termed a ‘commission’.


The representation of subjects or ideas by use of a device or motif to create underlying meaning. A literary and artistic movement that originated in France and spread through much of Europe in the late 19th century. There was no consistent style but rather an appeal to the idea of the artist as mystic or visionary and the desire to express a world beyond superficial appearances.


A fabric with an ornamental or pictorial design woven into it.

Commission, Symbolism, Tapestry


  • Acc. No. D 1192
  • Medium Pen, brown ink and watercolour with bodycolour over black chalk on paper
  • Size 26.20 x 29.80 cm
  • Credit David Laing Bequest to the Royal Scottish Academy, transferred 1910