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Flemish art and architecture

The Medieval Period

During the Middle Ages, Flemish art followed the contemporary early Christian, Carolingian, and Romanesque styles. In the 12th cent. Rainer of Huy, Godefroid de Claire, and Nicholas of Verdun, among others, were noted for their work in metal and enamel. In the same century an important late Romanesque cathedral was built at Tournai (see Romanesque architecture and art). In succeeding centuries, the metalworks of Dinant lent their name to the French word dinanderie, for metalwork, and Flemish brass workers and copper workers produced sophisticated pieces.

Splendid examples of secular architecture were executed in the 14th and 15th cent., including the Ypres cloth hall and the city halls of Brussels and Louvain. At Tournai painting, sculpture, and tapestry-making also flourished. Flanders followed the French in their adaptation of Gothic styles until the late 14th cent., when Flemish artists contributed vigorously realistic figures to the elegant, more fragile French manner of painting and manuscript illumination (see also Gothic architecture and art). Jean de Cambrai introduced similarly powerful and realistic forms into French sculpture, along with André Beauneveu and Jacques de Baerze. Jean Bondol of Bruges was a leading illuminator and tapestry designer.

The marriage in 1369 of the daughter of the count of Flanders to the duke of Burgundy led to a concentration of artists around the wealthy Burgundian court. It was the center of activity for such painters and manuscript illuminators as Melchior Broederlam, the Limbourg brothers, the Boucicaut master, Jean Malouel, and Jan van Eyck. Claus Sluter executed the famous sculpture at the court-sponsored Carthusian monastery of Champmol.

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

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