The History of Art And The Curious Lives of Famous Painters



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Masters of the Flemish School of Painting


Flemish School: (1600 - 1800)

The region of Flanders consists of modern day Belgium, the Netherlands, and France. A distinctive Flemish style emerged in the early 15th century based on manuscript illumination  and the work of early Christian artists of the Carolingian period. Artists of the era were commissioned by the church and their art focused on Christian parables, stories and Biblical sermons. 

The emergence of Flemish art was somewhat due to the prosperous trade and rapid increase of wealth allowing upper middle class patrons to purchase and commission paintings.   Antwerp, present day Belgium, was home to the greatest Flemish artists, including Pieter Bruegel , Rubens and Van Dyck.  These painters had a highly individual narrative approach, but all included their own personal spiritual, political, and social messages within their paintings.

Flemish painting is characterized by extraordinary subtlety, attention to detail, vivid colours, and inspired technique.  The medium oil painting on panel was  invented by Flemish master Jan van Eyck.  He is credited with developing illusionist effects ,  and luminosity with the newly invented oil glazes. This new medium  allowed the smooth blending of colors,  the use of transparent glazes, and ability to go back in and change the same section over and over again. 

Masters of Flemish Painting

Matthias Grünewald (1434-1494)  Northern Renaissance

Jan van Eyck (1385 - 1441)  Northern Renaissance

Quentin Massys (1466–1530  Northern Renaissance

Peter Paul Rubens (1577 - 1640)  Baroque

Willem van de Velde the Younger (1633 – 1707)

Frans Hals (1580 - 1666)  Baroque

Rembrandt van Rijn (1606-1669) Baroque

Jan Vermeer (1632 - 1675)   Baroque

Meindert Hobbema (1638-1709) Dutch, Baroque

Hieronymus Bosch (1453 - 1516)  Northern Renaissance

Pieter Brueghel the Elder (1525 - 1569) Northern Renaissance

Pieter Brueghel the Younger (1564 - 1638)  Northern Renaissance

Anthony van Dyck (1599 - 1641)  Baroque


Important Words, People, Phrases, Characteristics related to the Northern Renaissance Art Movement -  allegorical painting,  rebirth, invention of oil painting,   Hieronymus Bosch, Limbourg Brothers, Desiderius Erasmus,  Robert Campin, Jan Van Eyck, Jean Fouquet, Albrecht Dürer, Johannes Gutenberg, Johann Reuchlin, Martin Luther, rise of the merchant class, world landscape,  Low Countries, Protestant Reformation, Calvinisim, glazing, impasto, scriptorium, illuminator, invention of the printing press, woodcuts, engravings, Antwerp School, Guild of Saint Luke, commerce, Flemish School, Northern Europe, Flanders, Bruges, renewed interest in classical learning,  mythological scenes, genre painting, landscapes, portraits, moralizing overtones, human vices, lust, paradise, spirituality, piousness, living a simple life, reformHuman Reasoning,  tradesmen at work, idyllic scenes of peasantsplaying games, feasting,  linear perspective, \Heliocentric Theory, humour, satire,  spiritually significant, illuminated manuscriptidealized biblical themes, scriptorium, emotion, illuminator,  iconoclast, Age of Discovery, Virgin and Child, axonometric drawing, curiosity about the natural world,  realistic use of colours and lightOld Testament stories, Gospel parables, The Blackdeath,  Christian symbolism

The Meaning of Sacred Symbols in Paintings. Most prominently featured  symbols and their meaning:

The  Serpent

Good Shepherd


Adam and Eve



Mythological Creatures


Virgin Mary


The Four Evangelists

The Anchor

The Apostles



The Cross

Architectural Elements



The Saints









Household Object

Clothing and Accessories

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