Here is an A-Z list of the top 30 painters (altarpiece artists, portraitists, landscape, still life and genre painters) associated with oil painting in Flanders, together with a selection of important Flemish paintings. Although it covers 350 years, from roughly 1400-1750, the school of Flemish Painting experienced its highpoint during the 15th century blossoming of the Northern Renaissance. Later it received a boost during the Flemish Baroque of the 17th century, as a result of the activities and talents of Rubens and Van Dyck, but it never recovered its initial glory and influence. Thus most of the greatest Old Masters associated with Flanders were active during the Netherlandish Renaissance (c.1400-1580). Politically, Flanders (today”s Belgium) consisted of the southern art of the Low Countries. Mostly Catholic, it remained attached to Spain until it was handed over to Austria in 1715. The northern part of the Low Countries – The United Provinces (today”s Netherlands) – achieved independence from Spain in 1609.
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A-Z of Flemish Painters (c.1400-1750)
Note: All Artists with “van” in their name are listed under V.
Hieronymus Bosch (1450-1516) (Hertogenbosch)
He lived in a period between the Middle Ages and modern times. He combined visionary spirituality and farsightedness as to what the future would bring, consciousness in demonic religious art and obvious preferences to satyric games. This makes him the mysterious central figure of those years of spiritual upheaval.
– Garden of Earthly Delights (1504) Prado Museum, Madrid. – The Last Judgement (Triptych) (1505-10) Bildendenkunste, Vienna. – Ecce Homo (1515-6) Fine Art Museum, Ghent.
Dieric (Dirk) Bouts (c.1420-1475) (Louvain)
Along with Hans Memling he is the most important artist who succeeded Roger van der Weyden whose spiritualized style he developed to a picturesque realism of great purity.
– Hell (1450) Museum of Fine Arts, Lille. – Last Supper Altarpiece (1464-7) Church of Saint Peter, Leuven, Belgium.
Paul Bril (1550-1626) (Antwerp)
He is one of the most important Netherlandish painters who found their visual impressions and artistic talent in Italy. The southern landscapes received harmony and poetry through his hand.
Melchior Broederlam (1350-1411) (Ypres)
Court painter to Philip the Bold of Burgundy. Noted for his altarpiece art. – Dijon Altarpiece (1393-99) Museum of Fine Arts, Dijon.
Adriaen Brouwer (1605-38) (Oudenaarde)
He was active in Flanders and in Holland. He led an unsteady life and often turned to drink. He lived the depraved and unorderly life which he painted. An outstanding exponent of Dutch Realist genre painting, he knew how to breathe an exuberant life into his figures. He was an astute observer and an outstanding painter of landscapes.
Jan Brueghel the Older (1568-1625) (Brussels)
Jan found his initial craftsmanship by carrying on the painting of his father, as did the other family members. However, he soon developed his own style and a preference for other themes which justify his nicknames “Velvet Brueghel” or “Flower Brueghel”.
Pieter Bruegel the Elder (c.1525-1569) (Brussels)
He is one of the most important Northern Renaissance artists of the 16th century. In his genre painting he included a wide range of interesting themes. His contemporaries soon realized his significance and he was able to fulfill all his commissions – partly due to a well organized studio. At the same time he was such a genius that he was able to give all his various works artistic greatness. Regarded as one of the best genre painters of the 16th century.
– Netherlandish Proverbs (1559) Staatliche Museen, Berlin. – Mad Meg/Dulle Griet (1562) Mayer van den Bergh Museum, Antwerp. – Tower of Babel (1563) Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna. – Hunters in the Snow (1565) K.M., Vienna. – The Census of Bethlehem (1566) Royal Museum of Fine Arts, Brussels. – Massacre of the Innocents (1564) K.M., Vienna. – Parable of the Blind (1568), Museo Nazionale di Capodimonte, Naples. – The Peasant Wedding (1568) K.M., Vienna.
Robert Campin (1375-1444) (Tournai)
Netherlandish Master of Flemalle, broke away from the elegant International Gothic style to establish, with Van Eyck, the Early Netherlandish School.
– Seilern (Entombment) Triptych (1410) Courtauld Institute, London. – Merode Altarpiece (c.1427) Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York. – Werl Altarpiece (Diptych) (1438) Prado Museum, Spain.
Petrus Christus (1420-1473) (Bruges)
He was an important successor of Jan van Eyck, probably worked in his studio in his youth. He painted church paintings and portraits – his masterpiece is Portrait of a Young Girl (1470) – both strongly influenced by Eyck”s style. Influenced the Venetian portrait painting of Antonello da Messina (1430-79).
Jean Clouet (1485-1540)
Best known for his miniature portrait painting – examples are in the British Royal Collection, Windsor, and the Musee Conde, Chantilly – he was one of the best miniaturists on the Continent.
Gerard David (1460-1523) (Gouda)
He is regarded as the last great master of the early Netherlandish school. He was a contemporary of Memling and after Memling”s death was considered the town”s leading master for church paintings.
Jan Gossaert (1478-1536) (Mabuse)
He completed his painting style in Rome, and when he returned to Flanders, became one of the most important masters of Netherlandish Romance.
Jan Josef Horemans the Younger (1714-1790) (Antwerp)
He was a pupil of his father, Jan Josef the Older. There is often difficulty ascribing pictures to one or the other as signature and date are often similar. There is also very little difference in the themes of the paintings – lively, everyday genre scenes from rural and city life.
Jacquemart de Hesdin (c.1355-1414)
Flemish illuminator, noted for his advanced miniature painting.
– Les Tres-Belles Heures de Duc de Berry (Brussels Hours) (1400). – Petite Heures of the Duc de Berry (1400) French National Library, Paris.
Jacob Jordaens (1593-1678) (Antwerp)
Besides Rubens and van Dyck one of the most important Flemish artists. His humorous, earthy style of painting was mainly expressed in allegorical and mythological genre scenes. He painted a number of paintings over and over again with slight changes.
Adriaen Thomasz Key (1544-1589) (Antwerp)
He was a highly regarded history and portrait painter who had access to aristocratic circles. His portraits are distinguished by subtle elegance.
Quentin Massys/Matsys (1466-1530) (Louvain)
Founder of the Antwerp School and an important master of Netherlandish art at the beginning of the 16th century. His main works are altarpieces and Madonnas with a strong portrait character. He developed, as something completely new in his time, genre compositions with everyday events based on portraits, e.g. The Money Changer (1514, Louvre).
Hans Memling (c.1433-94) (Bruges)
His style of painting seems to be based on that of Roger van der Weyden and Dirk Bouts. He took their art and developed it with charming sophistication. He became the main master of the Southern Netherlandish School and kept the largest studio in Bruges in his day.
– Last Judgment Triptych (1471) Muzeum Narodowe, Gdansk. – The Donne Triptych (1480) National Gallery, London.
Joos de Momper (1564-1635) (Antwerp)
Important Netherlandish landscape painter. He preferred to paint scenes from rural and small town life, winter scenes, hunting scenes etc.
Bernaert Orley (1492-1542) (Brussels)
Beside Gossaert and Cleve he is the main master of Netherlandish realism. Although he worked in the tradition of the Netherlandish masters, he was strongly influenced by Raphael. He painted religious motifs and designed tapestries.
Joachim Patenier (1485-1524) (Antwerp)
He was a highly innovative pioneer of landscape painting in which figures were handled only as subordinate compositional material. Of main importance to him were fantastic representations of cliffs and rivers.
– Journey Into the Underworld (1522) Prado, Madrid. – The Rest on the Flight into Egypt (1515) Koninklijk Museum, Antwerp; Prado.
Jan Provost (1465-1539) (Mons, Antwerp and Bruges)
He worked in Mons, Antwerp and later in Bruges. He was one of the important representatives of the heritage of the Early Netherlandish School.
Peter Paul Rubens (1577-1640) (Siegen, Antwerp)
A main representative of Flemish Baroque painting. He took over elements of Catholic Counter Reformation Baroque and applied them as an expression of passionate drive and exuberant animation to his large-scale canvases.
– Samson and Delilah (1609) National Gallery, London. – Descent from the Cross (Rubens) (1614) Cathedal of Our Lady, Antwerp. – Rape of the Daughters of Leucippus (1618) Alte Pinakothek, Munich. – Judgement of Paris (1632-5, National Gallery, London)
Jacob Savery (d.1602) (Amsterdam)
There is not much known about his life apart from the fact that he was a painter and etcher. He was probably a brother of the much better known Roelandt. Both preferred landscapes with staffage.
Roelandt Savery (1576-1639) (Utrecht)
He was mainly a painter of landscapes and animal subjects. Flower paintings in the style of J. Brueghel also belonged to his works, a fashionable demand of the times.
Jan Siberechts (1627-1703) (Antwerp)
He painted wide landscapes with rural scenery or everyday peasant life, similar to the style of Paulus Potter.
David Teniers the Younger (1610-1690) (Antwerp, Brussels)
He originally worked in Antwerp, later he was appointed court painter in Brussels where he founded the academy. Influenced by Brouwer, he created peasant scenes with people smoking, playing cards etc. Later he also painted landscapes and courtly scenes.
Frederick Valkenborch (1570-1623) (Antwerp, Nuremberg)
Son of the Netherlandish painter Marten Valkenborch. He was an important representative of late Mannerism. On a journey to Rome he crossed the Alps and because of this loved the representation of wild mountain formations.
Joos van Cleve (c.1511-1540) (Antwerp)
Early Flemish master noted for his altarpiece art and other Christian paintings. In his youth Cleve was employed as portraitist in the French court. From 1535 he remained in Antwerp.
Gillis van Coninxloo (1544-1607) (Antwerp)
As an important landscape painter he formed the transition from the romanticizing, fantastic description of landscapes in the 16th century to the more natural way which the masters had of seeing things in the 17th century.
Anthony van Dyck (1599-1641) (Antwerp)
He is one of the greatest Flemish artists, and one of the best portrait artists ever. He learned in Rubens” workshop and refined his style in England and Italy. Later he was much in demand as a portraitist in aristocratic circles. Characteristic for his portraits is the “noble” pose of his sitters.
– Portrait of Cardinal Bentivoglio (1623) Palazzo Pitti, Florence. – King Charles I of England in Hunting Dress (1635) Louvre, Paris.
Jan van Eyck (1390-1441) (Maaseyck near Maastricht)
The most celebrated master of the Early Netherlandish School, and one of the best artists of all time, he began his career as a painter in the service of the Count of Holland in The Hague. From 1430 he was city painter in Bruges. Van Eyck”s painting technique, his construction and figural composition were groundbreaking for Netherlandish painting.
– Ghent Altarpiece (1432) Saint Bavo Catherdal, Ghent. – Portrait of a Man in a Red Turban (1433) National Gallery, London. – Arnolfini Portrait (1434) National Gallery. – The Rolin Madonna (1435) Louvre, Paris.
Hugo van der Goes (14401482) (Ghent)
Mysterious master painter from Ghent; important influence on the Early Renaissance in Florence.
– Portinari Altarpiece (Triptych) (1475) Uffizi, Florence.
Gossen van der Weyden (1465-1538) (Brussels)
An important painter of triptychs and other altarpieces. From 1503 he maintained a prosperous workshop and from 1510-1530 was dean of the Antwerp Guild of Painters. The fine elegance of his drawing is also impressive.
Roger van der Weyden (1400-1464) (Tournai, Brussels)
One of the main representatives of the Early Netherlandish School. His main works were done in Brussels where, as official painter to the city, he had a large studio. Similar to the van Eyck brothers, his work had a profound influence on the development of Netherlandish and German Renaissance art.
– Descent From the Cross (Deposition of Christ) (1435-40) Prado Museum. – Seven Sacraments Altarpiece (1445) Koninklijk Museum of Fine Arts. – Beaune Altarpiece (1446-52) Musee de l”Hotel Dieu, Beaune. – The Lamentation Before the Tomb (1450) Uffizi, Florence.
Jean-Antoine Watteau (1684-1721) (Paris)
Leading Flemish-born Rococo painter. – Pilgrimage to Cythera (1717) Louvre, Paris; Charlottenburg, Berlin.
Works by the great Flemish painters hang in many of the best art museums around the world, in particular the Musees Royaux de Beaux-Arts in Brussels, and the Antwerp Museum of Fine Arts.
For more about painting in Flanders and Holland, see: Homepage.
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