Belgium Figurative Arts

Flemish schoolThe primitives. – In the second half of the century. XIV ecLo that finally the first essays of a mature art appear. The missals and prayer books are enriched with miniatures that reach a rare degree of perfection; Tournai becomes the center for the manufacture of funeral monuments. A great artist, Andrea Beauneveu of Valenciennes, is an illuminator and sculptor; a painter from Ypres, Melchiorre Broederlam, works for Philip the Bold Duke of Burgundy, while John of Bruges draws the cartoons of the beautiful Apocalypse tapestries that adorn the cathedral of Angers. Here and there Italian influences (Sienese and Florentine) appear, no doubt transmitted through Avignon.

But at the turn of the century. XV the brothers Uberto and Giovanni van Eyck appear almost miraculously. They are the protagonists of the Flemish school, of which it is difficult to indicate the territorial limits, because these go beyond those of Flanders and also of present Belgium. Their common masterpiece, since critics have so far failed to agree on what belongs to each of them, is the large polyptych known as the Adoration of the Lamb, now all reconstituted in Ghent in the cathedral of Saint- Bavon. The museums of Belgium, and in particular those of Antwerp and Bruges, preserve other paintings by Van Eyck, which although not having the importance of the Adoration of the Lamb, however, they are masterpieces comparable to those held by other great museums in Europe (Paris, London, Berlin, Dresden, Frankfurt, Turin, Vienna, etc.). For Belgium 2018, please check

A contemporary of the Van Eycks is the master of Flémalle, who fell into the unjust oblivion of which the painters of the 15th century were victims in the 17th and 18th centuries. His main works are found in the Staedel museum in Frankfurt, and another, also important, the Annunciation, in the private collection of the Countess de Mérode, in Belgium, but is not visible to the public; other paintings by the same master can be found in the Prado Museum in Madrid. What can we attribute to this teacher? Although this is a somewhat controversial issue, various reasons lead us to believe that it is Roberto Campin di Tournai. Petrus Christus generally passes for a pupil of Giovanni van Eyck, but he is at least equally connected with Flémalle’s teacher.

In the 14th and 15th centuries, Tournai was an active and interesting art center with Valenciennes and Mons. The registers of the painters’ guild let us know that Roberto Campin’s studio formed two schoolchildren: Giacomo Daret and Roger de la Pasture (1399-1464) known under the name of Roger van der Weyden (Flemish translation of the surname de la Pasture).

The primacy in the school was opposed to Roger by Ugo van der Goes of Ghent (1445-1482). Another Ghent artist, Giusto, triumphed at the Urbino court.

Roger had two pupils, Thierri Bouts (v.) Of Louvain and Hans Memlinc of Bruges, who, despite both feeling the influence of the master’s examples, soon manifested a marked personality. Memlinc is all tenderness and gentleness, Bouts is realistic, dry and angular. As well as of both, Belgium has preserved the main works.

Gerardo David (1450-1523) succeeds Memlinc in the favor by which the latter was surrounded in Bruges. But towards the end of the century. XV the splendor of Bruges gradually diminishes: the sailors and merchants abandon it for Antwerp, and the artists, adapting to these new economic conditions, go to settle in the prosperous city, where they find work. And so in the first half of the century. XVI Quintino Metsys of Louvain (1466-1530), Joachim Patenier of Dinant, Enrico Bles of Bouvignes, Giovanni Gossart (v.) Of Maubeuge (1462-1533), form in Antwerp, as Mabuse says, a dazzling constellation, surrounded by stars of lesser size.

In the works of Metsys, Mabuse, and other of their contemporaries, reflections of the Italian Renaissance are often seen; and even more evident are these reflections in Bernardo van Orley or Bernardo d’Orlet (because the spelling is uncertain) of Brussels (1497-1542) who was the painter of Margaret of Austria and Maria of Hungary. With him the painters are increasingly losing the characteristics of Northern art. How could they resist the seduction of a Leonardo da Vinci and the brilliant flowering of the Italian Renaissance ? Two painters, on the other hand, resist the influences of Southern art: Gerolamo Bosch (1450-1516) and Pietro Brueghel the Elder (1525-1569), both typical Flemish artists. But after Brueghel the national inspiration, there is no doubt, is exhausted: the Flemish painters yield to foreign attractiveness, and the decline begins. The Liegese Lombart, who we find in his hometown in 1539 or 1540, is the head of the Romanist school, who with their cold and learned aesthetics arrested the Flemish inspiration for a long time (see Flemish, art).

Belgium Figurative Arts