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dinsdag 5 november 2013

Flemish Primitives

Here we go for my first “cultural” post.

Of all the art we have in Belgium, I find the most beautiful are those of the Flemish Primitives. I just learned about them and would like to share some interesting facts  about them with you.

“Flemish Primitives” are a group of painters who worked in the area of Flanders during the late 14th and 15th century.
The term ‘primitive’ sounds a little negative, as in old, simple, stupid. It is often thought that the artists where the first to use oil paint (primitive = the first), but that’s wrong. There is proof that oil paint was already used in the 12th century. What can be true is they perfected the composition of the oil. But, the term “primitives” is more related to the fact the artists didn’t know the correct aspect of perspective. In Italy you had several artists who made paintings using “center point perspective”. They tried to do that here as well, but they weren’t completely successful.
Many people think the “Flemish” part is only for artists born in these parts. That’s not quite true. Ok, you have Hugo van der Goes, born in Ghent, but you have also Hans Memling, who was born in Selingenstadt, Germany. Memling worked in Flanders (Bruges to more exact). So, it doesn’t mean they were born here, but that they worked here. And you must know that Flanders in those days was not the Flanders what we know today. The map “Theatrum Orbis Terrarum” by Abraham Ortelius shows the county of Flanders in the time of the Flemish Primitives. It consists of parts of present day Holland and France.


An other –less negative- name wich is commonly used is “ Early Netherlandish Paintings”.

The way they made the paintings was special, only to be found here. Wooden panels (mostly oak), rarely cloth, a layer of putty, a layer of oil paint (the picture itself), varnish for protection.
The materials that were used where so specific, the light penetrates the different layers, but part of that light reflects on the putty, paint and varnish. This gives the effect of the light coming from behind the paint. This makes the painting more vibrant, alive.

The most known Flemish Primitives are Rogier van der Weyden, Hugo van der Goes, Jan van Eyck and Hans Memling.

If you really love this art, the Groeningemuseum is the place to be! You can find it at Dijver 12, not far from the “picture perfect moment” in the walk at the Rozenhoedkaai. The entrance fee is 8 Euro and it’s open from 9.30am until 5pm. There you can find art starting from the 14th until the 19th century. Don’t just go in to see works from the Flemish Primitives, if you have the time there is much more to see.

Of course, there are more paintings made by the Flemish Primitive to be found throughout Bruges than just in the Groeningemuseum. St John’s hospital (St Janshospitaal) is just one who comes to mind. But, I’ll tell you more on those later!
Just enjoy the pictures of some paintings I added in this post.