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Flemish art and architecture

Achievements of the Seventeenth Century

With Rubens, Flemish art again became preeminent in Europe, and his influence dominated painting throughout much of the 17th cent. The greatest patron of Flemish art remained the church, and Rubens's greatest influence was exerted through his religious paintings rather than his portraiture or his apotheoses of European rulers. Elements of his energetic line, brushwork, and understanding of form, his rich, warm color, and his ideal of robust beauty were emulated in the work of his pupil Jacob Jordaens and in that of his more consciously elegant and more highly individual follower Sir Anthony Van Dyck.

Still life and genre painting also flourished in 17th-century Flanders. Outstanding still-life painters included Jan Bruegel and Frans Snyders; genre painters included David Teniers and Adriaen Brouwer. The principal exponent of classicism, the painter Abraham Janssens, brought elements of Caravaggesque painting to the Flemish school (see Caravaggio, Michelangelo Merisi da). The graphic arts also flourished in Flanders at this time. The principal Flemish sculptor was François Duquesnoy, who practiced in Italy. Architecture in the later 16th and 17th cent. blended heavy northern decorative taste and steeply pitched roofs with Italian mannerist and baroque forms; the Antwerp town hall (1561–65) and Rubens's house (c.1610) are characteristic buildings.

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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