Flemish Baroque painting

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Peter Paul Rubens, The Raising of the Cross, c. 1610-1611 Peter Paul Rubens - De kruisoprichting.JPG
Peter Paul Rubens, The Raising of the Cross, c. 1610–1611

Flemish Baroque painting refers to the art produced in the Southern Netherlands during Spanish control in the 16th and 17th centuries. The period roughly begins when the Dutch Republic was split from the Habsburg Spain regions to the south with the Spanish recapturing of Antwerp in 1585 and goes until about 1700, when Habsburg authority ended with the death of King Charles II. [1] Antwerp, home to the prominent artists Peter Paul Rubens, Anthony van Dyck, and Jacob Jordaens, was the artistic nexus, while other notable cities include Brussels and Ghent. [1]

Southern Netherlands Historical region in Belgium

The Southern Netherlands, also called the Catholic Netherlands, was the part of the Low Countries largely controlled by Spain (1556–1714), later Austria (1714–1794), and occupied then annexed by France (1794–1815). The region also included a number of smaller states that were never ruled by Spain or Austria: the Prince-Bishopric of Liège, the Imperial Abbey of Stavelot-Malmedy, the County of Bouillon, the County of Horne and the Princely Abbey of Thorn. The Southern Netherlands were part of the Holy Roman Empire until the whole area was annexed by Revolutionary France.

Dutch Republic Republican predecessor state of the Netherlands from 1581 to 1795

The United Provinces of the Netherlands, or simply United Provinces, and commonly referred to historiographically as the Dutch Republic, was a confederal republic formally established from the formal creation of a confederacy in 1581 by several Dutch provinces—seceded from Spanish rule—until the Batavian Revolution of 1795. It was a predecessor state of the Netherlands and the first fully independent Dutch nation state.

Habsburg Spain Reigning dynasty in Spain in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries

Habsburg Spain refers to Spain over the 16th and 17th centuries (1516–1700), when it was ruled by kings from the House of Habsburg. The Habsburg rulers reached the zenith of their influence and power. They controlled territory that included the Americas, the East Indies, the Low Countries and territories now in France and Germany in Europe, the Portuguese Empire from 1580 to 1640, and various other territories such as small enclaves like Ceuta and Oran in North Africa. This period of Spanish history has also been referred to as the "Age of Expansion".


Rubens, in particular, had a strong influence on seventeenth-century visual culture. His innovations helped define Antwerp as one of Europe's major artistic cities, especially for Counter Reformation imagery, and his student Van Dyck was instrumental in establishing new directions in English portraiture. Other developments in Flemish Baroque painting are similar to those found in Dutch Golden Age painting, [1] with artists specializing in such areas as history painting, portraiture, genre painting, landscape painting, and still life.

Baroque cultural movement, starting around 1600

The Baroque is a highly ornate and often extravagant style of architecture, music, dance, painting, sculpture and other arts that flourished in Europe from the early 17th until the mid-18th century. It followed Renaissance art and Mannerism and preceded the Rococo and Neoclassical styles. It was encouraged by the Catholic Church as a means to counter the simplicity and austerity of Protestant architecture, art and music, though Lutheran Baroque art developed in parts of Europe as well.

Dutch Golden Age painting

Dutch Golden Age painting is the painting of the Dutch Golden Age, a period in Dutch history roughly spanning the 17th century, during and after the later part of the Eighty Years' War (1568–1648) for Dutch independence.

History painting genre in painting defined by historical matter

History painting is a genre in painting defined by its subject matter rather than artistic style. History paintings usually depict a moment in a narrative story, rather than a specific and static subject, as in a portrait. The term is derived from the wider senses of the word historia in Latin and Italian, meaning "story" or "narrative", and essentially means "story painting". Most history paintings are not of scenes from history, especially paintings from before about 1850.

History of Dutch and Flemish painting
Early Netherlandish   (14001523)
Renaissance painting   (15201580)
Northern Mannerism   (15801615)
Dutch "Golden Age" painting   (16151702)
Flemish Baroque painting   (16081700)
List of Dutch painters
List of Flemish painters

General characteristics

"Flemish", in the context of this and artistic periods such as the "Flemish Primitives" (in English now Early Netherlandish painting), often includes the regions not associated with modern Flanders, including the Duchy of Brabant and the autonomous Prince-Bishopric of Liège. [1] By the seventeenth century, however, Antwerp was the main city for innovative artistic production, largely due to the presence of Rubens. Brussels was important as the location of the court, attracting David Teniers the Younger later in the century.

Early Netherlandish painting Work of artists active in the Low Countries during the 15th- and 16th-century Northern Renaissance

Early Netherlandish painting is the work of artists, sometimes known as the Flemish Primitives, active in the Burgundian and Habsburg Netherlands during the 15th- and 16th-century Northern Renaissance, especially in the flourishing cities of Bruges, Ghent, Mechelen, Louvain, Tournai and Brussels, all in present-day Belgium. The period begins approximately with Robert Campin and Jan van Eyck in the 1420s and lasts at least until the death of Gerard David in 1523, although many scholars extend it to the start of the Dutch Revolt in 1566 or 1568. Early Netherlandish painting coincides with the Early and High Italian Renaissance but the early period is seen as an independent artistic evolution, separate from the Renaissance humanism that characterised developments in Italy, although beginning in the 1490s as increasing numbers of Netherlandish and other Northern painters traveled to Italy, Renaissance ideals and painting styles were incorporated into northern painting. As a result, Early Netherlandish painters are often categorised as belonging to both the Northern Renaissance and the Late or International Gothic.

Flanders Community and region of Belgium

Flanders is the Dutch-speaking northern portion of Belgium and one of the communities, regions and language areas of Belgium. However, there are several overlapping definitions, including ones related to culture, language, politics and history, and sometimes involving neighbouring countries. The demonym associated with Flanders is Fleming, while the corresponding adjective is Flemish. The official capital of Flanders is Brussels, although the Brussels Capital Region has an independent regional government, and the government of Flanders only oversees the community aspects of Flanders life in Brussels such as (Flemish) culture and education.

Duchy of Brabant State of the Holy Roman Empire

The Duchy of Brabant was a State of the Holy Roman Empire established in 1183. It developed from the Landgraviate of Brabant and formed the heart of the historic Low Countries, part of the Burgundian Netherlands from 1430 and of the Habsburg Netherlands from 1482, until it was partitioned after the Dutch revolt.

Frans Hogenberg, The Calvinist Iconoclastic Riot of August 20, 1566 when many paintings and church decorations were destroyed and subsequently replaced by late Northern Mannerist and Baroque artists. Frans Hogenberg Bildersturm 1566.jpg
Frans Hogenberg, The Calvinist Iconoclastic Riot of August 20, 1566 when many paintings and church decorations were destroyed and subsequently replaced by late Northern Mannerist and Baroque artists.

Late Mannerism

Although paintings produced at the end of the 16th century belong to general Northern Mannerist and Late Renaissance approaches that were common throughout Europe, artists such as Otto van Veen, Adam van Noort, Marten de Vos, and the Francken family were particularly instrumental in setting the stage for the local Baroque. Between 1585 and the early 17th century they made many new altarpieces to replace those destroyed during the iconoclastic outbreaks of 1566. Also during this time Frans Francken the Younger and Jan Brueghel the Elder became important for their small cabinet paintings, often depicting mythological and history subjects.

Renaissance European cultural period, 14th to 17th century

The Renaissance is a period in European history, covering the span between the 14th and 17th centuries and marking the transition from the Middle Ages to modernity. The traditional view focuses more on the early modern aspects of the Renaissance and argues that it was a break from the past, but many historians today focus more on its medieval aspects and argue that it was an extension of the Middle Ages.

Otto van Veen Flemish painter

Otto van Veen, also known by his Latinized name Otto Venius or Octavius Vaenius, was a painter, draughtsman, and humanist active primarily in Antwerp and Brussels in the late sixteenth and early seventeenth century. He is known for running a large studio in Antwerp, producing several emblem books, and for being, from 1594 or 1595 until 1598, Peter Paul Rubens's teacher. His role as a classically educated humanist artist, reflected in the Latin name by which he is often known, Octavius Vaenius, was influential on the young Rubens, who would take on that role himself.

Adam van Noort Flemish painter

Adam van Noort was a Flemish painter and draughtsman and one of the teachers of Peter Paul Rubens. Adam van Noort was mainly known for his history paintings but he also created some portraits. He was a designer for engravings for the Collaert family of printmakers and publishers.

"The Age of Rubens"

Peter Paul Rubens (1577–1640), a student of both Otto van Veen and Adam van Noort, spent eight years in Italy (1600–1608), during which time he studied examples of classical antiquity, the Italian Renaissance, and contemporaries Adam Elsheimer and Caravaggio. Following his return to Antwerp he set up an important studio, training students such as Anthony van Dyck, and generally exerting a strong influence on the direction of Flemish art. Most artists active in the city during the first half of the 17th century were directly influenced by Rubens.

Peter Paul Rubens Flemish painter

Sir Peter Paul Rubens was a Flemish artist. He is considered the most influential artist of Flemish Baroque tradition. Rubens's highly charged compositions reference erudite aspects of classical and Christian history. His unique and immensely popular Baroque style emphasized movement, color, and sensuality, which followed the immediate, dramatic artistic style promoted in the Counter-Reformation. Rubens specialized in making altarpieces, portraits, landscapes, and history paintings of mythological and allegorical subjects.

Classical antiquity Age of the ancient Greeks and Romans

Classical antiquity is the period of cultural history between the 8th century BC and the 6th century AD centered on the Mediterranean Sea, comprising the interlocking civilizations of ancient Greece and ancient Rome known as the Greco-Roman world. It is the period in which Greek and Roman society flourished and wielded great influence throughout Europe, North Africa and Western Asia.

Italian Renaissance Cultural movement from the 14th to 17th century

The Italian Renaissance was a period of Italian history that began in the 14th century (Trecento) and lasted until the 17th century (Seicento). It peaked during the 15th (Quattrocento) and 16th (Cinquecento) centuries, spreading across Europe and marking the transition from the Middle Ages to Modernity. The French word renaissance means "Rebirth" and defines the period as one of cultural revival and renewed interest in classical antiquity after the centuries labeled the Dark Ages by Renaissance humanists. The Renaissance author Giorgio Vasari used the term "Rebirth" in his Lives of the Most Excellent Painters, Sculptors, and Architects but the concept became widespread only in the 19th century, after the works of scholars such as Jules Michelet and Jacob Burckhardt.

Peter Paul Rubens and Frans Snyders, Prometheus Bound, 1611-12. Philadelphia Museum of Art. This painting is Flemish Baroque example of collaboration and specialization. Snyders, who specialized in animals, painted the eagle while Rubens painted the figure of Prometheus. Rubens - Prometheus Bound.jpg
Peter Paul Rubens and Frans Snyders, Prometheus Bound, 1611-12. Philadelphia Museum of Art. This painting is Flemish Baroque example of collaboration and specialization. Snyders, who specialized in animals, painted the eagle while Rubens painted the figure of Prometheus.

Specializations and collaborations

Flemish art is notable for the large amount of collaboration that took place between independent masters, which was partly related to the local tendency to specialize in a particular area. Frans Snyders, for example, was an animal painter and Jan Brueghel the Elder was admired for his landscapes and paintings of plants. Both artists worked with Rubens, who often usually painted the figures, and other artists to create collaborative pieces.

Frans Snyders Flemish painter

Frans Snyders or Frans Snijders was a Flemish painter of animals, hunting scenes, market scenes and still lifes. He was one of the earliest specialist animaliers and he is credited with initiating a wide variety of new still-life and animal subjects in Antwerp. He was a regular collaborator with leading Antwerp painters such as Peter Paul Rubens, Anthony van Dyck and Jacob Jordaens.

Frans Francken the Younger, Preziosenwand (Wall of Treasures), 1636. Kunsthistorischesmuseum, Vienna. This type of painting was one of the distinctly Flemish innovations that developed during the early 17th century. Frans Francken d. J. 009.jpg
Frans Francken the Younger, Preziosenwand (Wall of Treasures), 1636. Kunsthistorischesmuseum, Vienna. This type of painting was one of the distinctly Flemish innovations that developed during the early 17th century.


Flower still life painting, which developed around 1600 by artists such as Jan Brueghel the Elder, was partially a Flemish innovation, [2] echoed in the Dutch Republic in the works of the Antwerp-born Ambrosius Bosschaert the Elder (1573–1621). [3] In Antwerp, however, this new genre also developed into a specifically Catholic type of painting, the flower garland. Other types of paintings closely associated with Flemish Baroque include the monumental hunting scenes by Rubens and Snyders, and gallery paintings by artists such as Willem van Haecht and David Teniers the Younger.

History painting

History painting, which includes biblical, mythological and historical subjects, was considered by seventeenth-century theoreticians as the most noble art. Abraham Janssens was an important history painter in Antwerp between 1600 and 1620, although after 1609 Rubens was the leading figure. Both Van Dyck and Jacob Jordaens were active painting monumental history scenes. Following Rubens's death, Jordaens became the most important Flemish painter. Other notable artists working in the idiom of Rubens include Gaspar de Crayer, who was active in Brussels, Artus Wolffort, Cornelis de Vos, Jan Cossiers, Theodoor van Thulden, Abraham van Diepenbeeck, and Jan Boeckhorst. During the second half of the century, history painters combined a local influence from Rubens with knowledge of classicism and Italian Baroque qualities. Artists in the vein include Erasmus Quellinus the Younger, Jan van den Hoecke, Pieter van Lint, Cornelis Schut, and Thomas Willeboirts Bosschaert. Later in the century, many painters turned to Anthony van Dyck as a major influence. [4] Among them were Pieter Thijs, Lucas Franchoys the Younger, and artists who were also inspired by Late Baroque theatricality such as Theodoor Boeyermans and Jan-Erasmus Quellinus. Additionally, a Flemish variant of Caravaggism was expressed by Theodoor Rombouts and Gerard Seghers.

Religious painting

Rubens is closely associated with the development of the Baroque altarpiece. Painted for the Arquebusiers' guild, the Descent from the Cross triptych (1611–14; Cathedral of Our Lady, Antwerp)—with side wings depicting the Visitation and Presentation in the Temple , and exterior panels showing St. Christopher and the Hermit—is an important reflection of Counter-Reformation ideas about art combined with Baroque naturalism, dynamism and monumentality. [5] Roger de Piles explains that "the painter has entered so fully into the expression of his subject that the sight of this work has the power to touch a hardened soul and cause it to experience the sufferings endured by Jesus Christ in order to redeem it." [6]

Anthony van Dyck, Portrait of King Charles I, 1635. Louvre, Paris. Charles I of England.jpg
Anthony van Dyck, Portrait of King Charles I, 1635. Louvre, Paris.


Although not predominately a portrait painter, Rubens's contributions include early works such as his Portrait of Brigida Spinola-Doria (1606, National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.), paintings of his wives (the Honeysuckle Bower and Het Pelsken ), and numerous portraits of friends and nobility. He also exerted a strong influence on Baroque portraiture through his student Anthony van Dyck. Van Dyck became court painter for Charles I of England and was influential on subsequent English portraiture. Other successful portraitists include Cornelis de Vos and Jacob Jordaens. Although most Flemish portraiture is life-sized or monumental, Gonzales Coques and Gillis van Tilborch specialized in small-scale group portraiture.

Adriaen Brouwer, The Bitter Drink, c. 1630-1640. Brouwer's expressive peasants are typical of "low-life" genre painting. Adriaen Brouwer - The Bitter Potion - Google Art Project.jpg
Adriaen Brouwer, The Bitter Drink, c. 1630–1640. Brouwer's expressive peasants are typical of "low-life" genre painting.

Genre painting

Genre paintings, or scenes of everyday life, are common in the 17th century. Many artists follow the tradition of Pieter Bruegel the Elder in depicting "low-life" peasant themes, although elegant "high-life" subjects featuring fashionably-dressed couples at balls or in gardens of love are also common. Adriaen Brouwer, whose small paintings often show peasants fighting and drinking, was particularly influential on subsequent artists. Images of woman performing household tasks, popularized in the northern Netherlands by Pieter de Hooch and Jan Vermeer, is not a significant subject in the south, although artists such as Jan Siberechts explored these themes to some degree.

Bruegel tradition

Flemish genre painting is strongly tied to the traditions of Pieter Bruegel the Elder and was a style that continued directly into the 17th century through copies and new compositions made by his sons Pieter Brueghel the Younger and Jan Brueghel the Elder. Many of these are kermis paintings and scenes of peasants taking part in other outdoor enjoyments viewed from an elevated viewpoint. Artists in the Dutch Republic, such as the Flemish-born David Vinckboons and Roelandt Savery, also made similar works, popularizing rustic scenes of everyday life closely associated with Dutch and Flemish painting.

Adriaen Brouwer and his followers

Adriaen Brouwer (1605 or 1606–1638) typically painted small scenes of ragged peasants fighting, gaming, drinking and generally expressing exaggerated and rude behaviour. Born in the Southern Netherlands, Brouwer spent the 1620s in Amsterdam and Haarlem, where he came under the influence of Frans and Dirk Hals and other artists working in a loose painterly manner. Upon his return to Antwerp around 1631 or 1632 he introduced a new, influential format in which the subjects were painted as interior, instead of exterior, scenes. He also painted expressive facial studies like The Bitter Drink (illustrated), a genre called tronies ("faces"). Brouwer's art was recognized in his own lifetime and had a powerful impact on Flemish art. Rubens owned more works by him at the time of his death than any other painter, and artists such as David Teniers the Younger, Jan van de Venne, Joos van Craesbeeck and David Ryckaert III continued to work in a similar manner.

Elegant company scenes

Paintings of elegant couples in the latest fashions, often with underlying themes of love or the five senses, were commonly painted by Hieronymus Francken the Younger, Louis de Caullery, Simon de Vos, David Teniers the Younger and David Ryckaert III. Rubens's Garden of Love (c. 1634–5; Prado Museum) belongs to these traditions.

Monumental genre scenes

Whereas elegant company scenes and works by Brouwer and his followers were often small in scale, other artists looked to Caravaggio for inspiration and painted large-scale, theatrically inspired scenes in which musicians, cardplayers, and fortune tellers are pushed to the foreground of the composition. These paintings, like others by Caravaggisti , are generally illuminated by strong lighting effects. Adam de Coster, Gerard Seghers and Theodoor Rombouts were the main exponents of this popular style in the early 17th century, which was popularized by Italian followers of Caravaggio like Bartolomeo Manfredi and Utrecht Caravaggisti like Gerrit van Honthorst. Rombouts was also influenced by his teacher Abraham Janssens, who began incorporating Caravaggesque influences into his history paintings from first decade of the 17th century .

Jacob Jordaens, The King Drinks. Jordeans was well known for his large paintings of moralistic genre scenes, such as this depiction of an Epiphany feast. Jakob Jordaens 001.jpg
Jacob Jordaens, The King Drinks. Jordeans was well known for his large paintings of moralistic genre scenes, such as this depiction of an Epiphany feast.

Jacob Jordaens

Jacob Jordaens, who became Antwerp's most important artist after Rubens's death in 1640, is well known for his monumental genre paintings of subjects such as The King Drinks and As the Old Sing, So Pipe the Young. Many of these paintings use compositional and lighting influences similar to those of the Caravaggisti, while the treatment of the subjects inspired Dutch artists like Jan Steen.

Battle scenes

Another popular type of painting invented in the Low Countries was landscapes with historical and fictional battles, as well as skirmishes and robberies. Sebastiaen Vrancx and his pupil Peter Snayers specialized in this genre, and Snayer's student Adam-Frans van der Meulen continued painting them in Antwerp, Brussels and Paris until the end of the century.

Michael Sweerts, Wrestling Match, 1649. Karlsruhe, Staatliche Kunsthalle. Sweerts's style is influenced by his time in Rome, and in this painting he combines a genre subject with classical poses and Italian coloring Sweerts, Michael -1649- - Wrestling Match.jpg
Michael Sweerts, Wrestling Match, 1649. Karlsruhe, Staatliche Kunsthalle. Sweerts's style is influenced by his time in Rome, and in this painting he combines a genre subject with classical poses and Italian coloring


Following a time-honoured tradition, many northern artists travelled to Italy in the 17th century. Flemish artists such as Jan Miel (1599–1664), Michael Sweerts (1618–1664), Anton Goubau (1616–1698) and Willem Reuter (c.1642–1681) went to Rome where they worked for a period of time. Here they were influenced by the works of the genre painters active in Rome referred to as the Bamboccianti. The Bamboccianti comprised mostly Dutch and Flemish artists who had brought existing traditions of depicting peasant subjects from sixteenth-century Netherlandish art with them to Italy, [7] and generally created small cabinet paintings or etchings of the everyday life of the lower classes in Rome and its countryside. [8] The Dutch painter Pieter van Laer who was nicknamed "Il Bamboccio" (meaning "ugly doll" or "puppet" in Italian) had started this type of genre painting in Rome. In general, genre painting was not well-accepted in Italy, especially by official organizations such as the Academy of St. Luke. Many of the painters were alsom members of the Bentvueghels, the society of mainly Flemish and Dutch artists working in Rome. It acted as a support network for Netherlandish artists in Rome who were in need but is better known for the "bohemian" lifestyle of its members and drunken festivities. [9]

Landscape and seascape

Early landscape painting

Gillis van Coninxloo was an innovative landscape painter in Antwerp in the late 16th century, who introduced a more natural view instead of the traditional world landscape popularized by earlier painters such as Joachim Patiner. He left a strong influence on northern landscape painting in general through his period in Amsterdam and as a founding member of the Frankenthal School. Forest and mountain landscapes were painted by Abraham Govaerts, Alexander Keirincx, Gijsbrecht Leytens, Tobias Verhaecht and Joos de Momper. Paul Bril settled in Rome, where he specialized as a landscape painter decorating Roman villas and creating small cabinet paintings.

Peter Paul Rubens, Landscape with view of 'Het Steen', 1636. Peter Paul Rubens - A View of Het Steen in the Early Morning.jpg
Peter Paul Rubens, Landscape with view of 'Het Steen', 1636.

Rubens and later painters

Jan Wildens and Lucas van Uden painted natural landscapes inspired by Rubens, and frequently collaborated with figure painters or animal specialists to paint the backgrounds. Rubens turned to landscape painting in the 1630s, focusing on the area around his chateau, Het Steen. A well-known example is the Landscape with a view of 'Het Steen' (National Gallery of London).

Marine painting

Small seascapes (zeekens) were another popular theme. Artists such as Bonaventura Peeters painted shipwrecks and atmospheric views of ships at sea, as well as imaginary views of exotic ports. Hendrik van Minderhout, who was from Rotterdam and settled in Antwerp, continued this latter theme contemporaneous with developments of marine painting in the Dutch Republic.

Architectural painting

Interior architectural views, usually of churches, developed out of the late sixteenth-century works of Hans Vredeman de Vries. Many were actual locations. Pieter Neeffs I, for example, made numerous interiors of the Cathedral of Our Lady, Antwerp. Hendrik van Steenwijk II, on the other hand, followed Vredeman's precedent in painting imaginary interiors. The genre continued in the later seventeenth century by Anton Ghering and Wilhelm Schubert van Ehrenberg, but the Flemish examples do not demonstrate the same level of innovation found in the Dutch perspectives of Pieter Jansz Saenredam or Emanuel de Witte. [10]

David Teniers the Younger, The Archduke Leopold Wilhelm in his gallery in Brussels. Teniers documented the archduke's collection of paintings in this work while he was court painter in Brussels. DAVID TENIERS EL JOVEN - El Archiduque Leopoldo Guillermo en su Galeria de Bruselas (Kunsthistorisches Museum de Viena, 1650-52. Oleo sobre lienzo, 123 x 163 cm).jpg
David Teniers the Younger, The Archduke Leopold Wilhelm in his gallery in Brussels . Teniers documented the archduke's collection of paintings in this work while he was court painter in Brussels.

Gallery paintings appeared in Antwerp around 1610, and developed—like architectural interiors—from the compositions of Hans Vredeman de Vries. [11] One of the earliest innovators of this new genre was Frans Francken the Younger, who introduced the type of work known as the Preziosenwand (wall of treasures). In these, prints, paintings, sculptures, drawings, as well as collectable objects from the natural world like shells and flowers are collected together in the foreground against a wall that imitates encyclopedic cabinets of curiosities. A similar variation of these collections of artistic wealth are the series of the five senses created by Jan Brueghel the Elder and Rubens (Prado Museum, Madrid). Willem van Haecht (1593–1637) developed another variation in which illustrations of actual artworks are displayed in a fantasy art gallery, while connoisseurs and art lovers admire them. Later in the century, David Teniers the Younger, working in the capacity of court painter to Archduke Leopold Wilhelm of Austria, documented the archduke's collection of Italian paintings in Brussels as gallery painters as well as in a printed catalogue–the Theatrum Pictorium . Flemish Gallery and art collection paintings have been interpreted as a kind of visual theory of art. [12] Such paintings continued to be made in Antwerp by Gerard Thomas (1663–1721) and Balthasar van den Bossche (1681–1715), and foreshadow the development of the veduta in Italy and the galleries of Giovanni Paolo Pannini.

Jan Brueghel the Elder, Flower Still Life, 1606/7. Brueghel was an innovator of the flower still life genre. Jan Brueghel the Elder - Flowers in a Wooden Vessel - Google Art Project.jpg
Jan Brueghel the Elder, Flower Still Life, 1606/7. Brueghel was an innovator of the flower still life genre.

Still life and animal painting

Flower painting

Jan Brueghel the Elder was one of the important innovators of the floral still life around 1600. [2] These paintings, which presented immaculately observed arrangements and compositions, were imaginary creations of flowers that bloom at different times of the years. [2] They were popular with leading patrons and nobility across Europe, and generally have an underlying Vanitas motif. The compositions of Brueghel's paintings were also influential on later Dutch flower pieces. [13] Brueghel's sons Jan Brueghel the Younger and Ambrosius Brueghel were also flower specialists. Osias Beert (1580–1624) was another flower painter at the beginning of the 17th century. His paintings share many similarities with northern contemporaries such as Ambrosius Bosschaert the Elder. [13]

Garland painting

Closely related to the flower still life is the flower garland genre of painting that was invented by Jan Brueghel in collaboration with cardinal Federico Borromeo in Milan. [14] The early versions of these paintings, such as the collaboration by Breughel and Rubens in Munich (Alte Pinakothek, Munich) show the Virgin Mary and Christ child surrounded by a garland of flowers. They have been interpreted as distinctly Counter Reformation images, with the flowers emphasizing the delicacy of the Virgin and Child–images of which were destroyed in large numbers during the iconoclastic outbreaks of 1566. [15] Brueghel's student, the Jesuit painter Daniel Seghers, also painted many of these types of works for an international clientele. [16] In later versions, the fleshy Madonna and Child gave way to sculptural niches and even pagan themes.

Osias Beert, Still life with oysters, c. 1610. Staatsgalerie, Stuttgart. Beert's still lifes are typical of the "breakfast" type painted early in the 17th century. Osias Beert - Oysters 1610.jpg
Osias Beert, Still life with oysters, c. 1610. Staatsgalerie, Stuttgart. Beert's still lifes are typical of the "breakfast" type painted early in the 17th century.

Breakfast and banquet still life

The ontbijtje, or "little breakfast", is a type of still life that was popular in both the northern and southern Netherlands showing a variety of eating and drinking vessels and foods such as cheese and bread against a neutral background. Osias Beert, Clara Peeters, Cornelis Mahu and Jacob Foppens van Es (c. 1596–1666) were all artists who made these types of painting. More elaborate are the pronk, or "sumptuous", still life. This style developed in the Dutch Republic, and was brought to Antwerp by Jan Davidsz de Heem. They show, on a larger scale than earlier works, complex compositions of expensive items, rare foods, and fleshy, peeling fruit. These paintings are related to vanitas and transience motifs.

Frans Snyders, The Pantry, c. 1620. Frans SNYDERS, The Pantry.JPG
Frans Snyders, The Pantry, c. 1620.

Animal still life

Frans Snyders (1579–1657) painted large still lifes focusing on dead game and animals. His compositions, along with those of his follower Adriaen van Utrecht (1599–1652). look back to the sixteenth-century paintings of Pieter Aertsen and Joachim Beuckelaer, but instill that tradition with a High Baroque monumentality. [17] Subsequent artists, Jan Fyt and Pieter Boel further elaborated on this type by including a noticeable mixture of living animals and dead game. These latter paintings are closely related to images of the hunt, which came into fashion in Flemish painting during the 17th century.

Peter Paul Rubens, The Tiger, Leopard and Lion Hunt, c. 1617-1618. Musee des Beaux Arts, Rennes. This painting is typical of Rubens's "exotic" hunts painted between about 1615 and 1625. Peter Paul Rubens 110.jpg
Peter Paul Rubens, The Tiger, Leopard and Lion Hunt , c. 1617–1618. Musée des Beaux Arts, Rennes. This painting is typical of Rubens's "exotic" hunts painted between about 1615 and 1625.

Hunting scenes

Rubens introduced the monumental hunt to Flemish art, depicting on a large scale a close battle inspired by his study of classical antiquity and Leonardo da Vinci's Battle of Anghiari . These works show both noble hunts, such as the Wolf and Fox Hunt (Metropolitan Museum of Art), and exotic hunts, such as the Lion Hunt (Alte Pinakothek, Munich). Frans Snyders and Paul de Vos created similarly large paintings which are distinct from Rubens's works in their focus on the animals and absence of human participation.

Cabinet painting

Small, intricate paintings, usually depicting history and biblical subjects, were produced in great numbers in the Southern Netherlands throughout the 17th century. Many were created by anonymous artists, however artists such as Jan Brueghel the Elder, Hendrik van Balen, Frans Francken the Younger and Hendrik de Clerck were all successful cabinet painters during the first half of the 17th century. These artists, as well as followers of Adam Elsheimer like David Teniers the Elder, remained partly shaped by continued mannerist stylistic tendencies. However, Rubens influenced a number of later artists who incorporated his Baroque style into the small context of these works. Among them are Frans Wouters, Jan Thomas van Ieperen, Simon de Vos, Pieter van Lint, and Willem van Herp. These small paintings were traded widely throughout Europe, and by way of Spain to Latin America. [18]

See also

Related Research Articles

Jan Brueghel the Elder Flemish painter

Jan Brueghelthe Elder was a Flemish painter and draughtsman. He was the son of the eminent Flemish Renaissance painter Pieter Brueghel the Elder. A close friend and frequent collaborator with Peter Paul Rubens, the two artists were the leading Flemish painters in the first three decades of the 17th century.

David Teniers the Younger Flemish painter (1610-1690)

David Teniers the Younger or David Teniers II was a Flemish Baroque painter, printmaker, draughtsman, miniaturist painter, staffage painter, copyist and art curator. He was an extremely versatile artist known for his prolific output. He was an innovator in a wide range of genres such as history painting, genre painting, landscape painting, portrait and still life. He is now best remembered as the leading Flemish genre painter of his day. Teniers is particularly known for developing the peasant genre, the tavern scene, pictures of collections and scenes with alchemists and physicians.

Gonzales Coques Flemish Baroque painter

Gonzales Coques was a Flemish painter of portraits and history paintings. Because of his artistic proximity to and emulation with Anthony van Dyck he received the nickname de kleine van Dyck. Coques also worked as an art dealer.

Hendrick van Balen Flemish painter

Hendrick van Balen or Hendrick van Balen I was a Flemish Baroque painter and stained glass designer. Hendrick van Balen specialised in small cabinet pictures often painted on a copper support. His favourite themes were mythological and allegorical scenes and, to a lesser extent, religious subjects. The artist played an important role in the renewal of Flemish painting in the early 17th century and was one of the teachers of Anthony van Dyck.

Nicolaes van Verendael Flemish painter

Nicolaes van Verendael or Nicolaes van Veerendael was a Flemish painter active in Antwerp who is mainly known for his flower paintings and vanitas still lifes. He was a frequent collaborator of other Antwerp artists to whose compositions he added the still life elements. He also painted a number of singeries - scenes with monkeys dressed and acting as humans.

Dutch and Flemish Renaissance painting

Dutch and Flemish Renaissance painting represents the 16th-century response to Italian Renaissance art in the Low Countries. These artists, who span from the Antwerp Mannerists and Hieronymus Bosch at the start of the 16th century to the late Northern Mannerists such as Hendrik Goltzius and Joachim Wtewael at the end, drew on both the recent innovations of Italian painting and the local traditions of the Early Netherlandish artists. Antwerp was the most important artistic centre in the region. Many artists worked for European courts, including Bosch, whose fantastic painted images left a long legacy. Jan Mabuse, Maarten van Heemskerck and Frans Floris were all instrumental in adopting Italian models and incorporating them into their own artistic language. Pieter Brueghel the Elder, with Bosch the only artist from the period to remain widely familiar, may seem atypical, but in fact his many innovations drew on the fertile artistic scene in Antwerp.

The Antwerp School was a school of artists active in Antwerp, first during the 16th century when the city was the economic center of the Low Countries, and then during the 17th century when it became the artistic stronghold of the Flemish Baroque under Peter Paul Rubens.

Erasmus Quellinus II Flemish painter

Erasmus Quellinus the Younger and Erasmus Quellinus II (1607–1678) was a Flemish painter, engraver, draughtsman and tapestry designer who worked in various genres including history, portrait, battle and animal paintings. He was a pupil of Peter Paul Rubens and was one of the closest collaborators of Rubens in the 1630s. Following Rubens’ death in 1640 he became one of the most prolific and successful painters in Flanders.

Simon de Vos Flemish painter

Simon de Vos was a Flemish painter, draughtsman and art collector. He started his career making small-format cabinet pictures of genre scenes, in particular of Caravaggesque merry companies. Later he switched to history painting, working on larger formats in a Flemish Baroque style which was influenced by Rubens and van Dyck.

Frans Francken the Younger Flemish painter

Frans Francken the Younger was a Flemish painter and the best-known member of the large Francken family of artists. Francken created altarpieces and painted furniture panels, but his reputation chiefly relies on his small and delicate cabinet pictures with historical, mythological, or allegorical themes. He played an important role in the development of Flemish art in the first half of the 17th century through his innovations in many genres including genre painting and his introduction of new subject matter. He was a frequent collaborator of leading Antwerp painters of his time.

Jan Boeckhorst painter

Jan Boeckhorst or Johann Bockhorst, was a German-born Flemish Baroque painter and draughtsman. He was a versatile artist who produced history paintings, genre scenes and portraits in a style influenced by the trio of leading Baroque painters in Antwerp Peter Paul Rubens, Anthony van Dyck and Jacob Jordaens.

Pieter Thijs painter

Pieter Thijs, Peter Thijs or Pieter Thys was a Flemish painter of portraits as well as religious and history paintings. He was a very successful artist who worked for the courts in Brussels and The Hague as well as for many religious institutions. His work was close to the courtly and elegant style of Anthony van Dyck and his followers.

Ambrosius Brueghel Flemish Baroque painter

Ambrosius Brueghel was a Flemish painter from the famous Brueghel family of artists. Less prolific and less well-known than a number of his family members, his oeuvre is not very well understood and is believed to comprise Baroque still lifes, garland paintings as well as landscapes.

Willem van Herp painter

Willem van Herp (I) or Willem van Herp the Elder was a Flemish Baroque painter specializing in religious paintings and small cabinet paintings of "low-life" genre scenes. He operated a large workshop and through his good connections with Antwerp art dealers helped spread the Flemish Baroque style internationally.

Hendrik van Steenwijk II Flemish Baroque painter (1580-1649)

Hendrik van Steenwijck II (c.1580–1640) was a Baroque painter mostly of architectural interiors, but also of biblical scenes and still lifes.

Pieter van Avont Flemish painter

Pieter van Avont or Peter van Avont, (1600–1652) was a Flemish painter, draughtsman and printmaker known for his religious scenes and cabinet paintings often including nude children and putti. Van Avont was a frequent collaborator with many leading painters in Antwerp.

Jan van Balen Flemish painter

Jan van Balen was a Flemish painter known for his Baroque paintings of history and allegorical subjects. He also painted landscapes and genre scenes.

Wilhelm Schubert van Ehrenberg painter

Wilhelm Schubert van Ehrenberg or Willem Schubart van Ehrenberg (also: Wilhem Schubert von Ehrenberg or Wilhem Schubert van Ehrenberg was a Flemish painter mainly active in Antwerp who specialized in architectural paintings including of real and imaginary church interiors, Renaissance palaces and picture galleries.

Peeter Gijsels Flemish painter

Peeter Gijsels or Pieter Gijsels, was a Flemish Baroque painter. He is known for his landscapes, architectural compositions and still lifes. His landscapes in the style of Jan Brueghel the Elder were very sought after in his time. He is also regarded as a genre painter as he painted village scenes of village markets and kermises.

Andries Daniels Flemish artist

Andries Daniels was a Flemish painter of flower still lifes who played an important role in the development of the genre of garland paintings Antwerp.


  1. 1 2 3 4 Vleighe, p. 1.
  2. 1 2 3 Vlieghe, pp. 207–212.
  3. Slive, p. 279.
  4. Vlieghe, pp. 98–104.
  5. Belkin, pp. 113–121.
  6. Martin, Baroque, pp. 20–21.
  7. Levine, David A. (December 1988). "The Roman Limekilns of the Bamboccianti". The Art Bulletin. College Art Association. 70 (4), p. 570
  8. Haskell, Francis (1993). "Chapter 8". Patrons and Painters: Art and Society in Baroque Italy. Yale University Press, pp. 132–134.
  9. Levine, David A., "The Bentvueghels: 'Bande Académique"," in IL60: Essays Honoring Irving Lavin on his Sixtieth Birthday, ed. Marilyn Aronberg Lavin. New York: Italica Press, 1990, p. 216
  10. Vlieghe, pp. 200–202.
  11. Vlieghe, p. 202.
  12. Vlieghe, pp. 202–206.
  13. 1 2 Vlieghe, p. 208.
  14. David Freedberg, "The Origins and Rise of the Flemish Madonnas in Flower Garlands, Decoration and Devotion", Münchener Jahrbuch der bildenden Kunst, xxxii, 1981, pp. 115–150.
  15. Freedberg (1981), op. cit.
  16. Vlieghe, p. 209.
  17. Vlieghe, pp. 211–216.
  18. Vlieghe, pp. 105–114.