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.
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.
Just enjoy the pictures of some paintings I added in this post.