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School of Bruges

The Center of Flemish Painting

 Bruges is located in north west Belgium. 

The School of Bruges began with painter Jan van Eyck. The state of affairs in Bruges during the time of the Northern Renassaince was a time of peace and artistic growth.  After many long years of turmoil and political strife; the city enjoyed intellectual activity and innovations in music, poetry, architecture and art. The city councils and guilds of Bruges employed painters, sculptors and craftsmen to adorn and embellish public squares, churches, hotels and public buildings. Author Ernest Gilliat-Smith describes the city "Those of the great burgher-nobles who already possessed palaces enlarged and embellished them; the new men who had recently amassed fortunes vied with the old aristocracy in the magnificence and luxury of the mansions which they now built; plain, well-to-do merchants were everywhere constructing those roomy, comfortable abodes, which, with their high stepped gables and their façades enriched with stately paneling and Gothic tracery, still render the streets and squares and waterways of Bruges the most picturesque in Europe. Even working men, humble members of the great guilds of smiths, or masons, or carpenters, were making their homes beautiful with the fruit of their handicraft; constructing canopied niches at street corners, or over the doorways of the hovels in which they lived, and placing in them graven images of Our Lady or of some favorites saint; hammering out exquisite lanterns, which it was their delight to hang before them, from brackets of no less dainty fashion; fabricating, of wrought-iron, those quaintly beautiful trade signs by which it was their wont to call attention to their avocations; making door, and lintel, and chimney, and rafter comely with fruit and foliage, fascinating with heraldic devices, and grotesque and leering heads, and the images of devils and of saints."

Manuscript Illumination in Bruges

Bruges in the fourteenth and fifteenth century was faous for talented miniaturists and  illuminators. Some of these manuscripts once formed part of the sumptuous libraries of the last Flemish royalty. Most of the painters were members of the artist guild of St. Luke.

During the French Revolution many of the great masterpeices were pillaged from churches, public buildings and private homes.

School of Bruges - Important Painters
Hans Melming 1434-1494  
Jan Provoost  (1465–1529)
Flemish School, Netherlandish 
Hugo Van Der Goes 
Alexander Bening
Simon Bening
Hubert van Eyck
Michael Pacher (1435– 1498)
Pieter Pourbus (1523-1584) Flemish School
Jan van Eyck (1385 - 1441) Flemish
Gerard Horenbout  (1465 - 1541)
Flemish School,
Gerard David  (1469-1519) Early Netherlandish

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,  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, Antwerp School, 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


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Ref.  Lessons in the Art of Illuminating by W. J. Loftie
Ref.The Story of Bruges by Ernest Gilliat-Smith