- The work of the Flemish Primitives is represented in Brussels by Rogier van der Weyden, named town painter in 1436. Weyden developed a schoo1 around him that included Vrancke van der Stockt, Colijn de Coter, and Pieter van der Weyden. Artists began to be drawn to Brussels during the Burgundian regime and under the Hapsburgs. Margaret of Austria summoned Jan Gossaert (ca. l478-ca. 1532) to Brussels, the artist who introduced the art of the Italian High Renaissance to the Netherlands.Production of cartoons for tapestries flourished in the 15th and 16th centuries, those of Bernard van Orley among the most notable. The Italian influences he brought to Brussels marked the heydey of Renaissance art in the city. Greatly admired by contemporaries for his portraits and triptychs, he also passed on his skills to artists such as Michiel Coxcie. Pieter Bruegel the Elder, who resided in Brussels, remains northern Europe's preeminent Renaissance painter of realistic genre scenes.Following the turmoil of the wars of religion, Brussels became a center of fervent Roman Catholic piety, well depicted in the religious themes of Gaspard de Crayer. The aristocracy, the court, and the church constituted the major markets for works of art and artists catered to that clientele. The city housed a number of 17th-century landscape artists, including Louis de Vadder, Denis van Alsloot, and Jacques d'Arthois. The influence of Pieter Paul Rubens predominated and David Teniers the Younger, who arrived from Antwerp in 1651, painted canvases that marked a transition from the realism characteristic of the 17th century to the pastoralism of the 18th. In the 1700s, Victor Janssens painted primarily religious subjects and André Corneille Lens introduced neoclassicism.Neoclassicism, the favored style in Europe at the turn of the 19th century, was evident in Brussels, where artists were much influenced by Jacques-Louis David, in exile in the city following the downfall of Napoléon Bonaparte. One of these painters —François-Joseph Navez—founded a distinctive Belgian school in producing portraits, genre scenes, and religious works. Louis-Marie Autissier was a noted miniature portraitist. The romantic landscapes of Hendrik van Assche marked a turn toward radically different styles and the 19th century would see tendencies succeeding each other at the same time as they continued to coincide with each other.Romantics included Antoine Wiertz, whose gigantic canvases mimicked the scale of Rubens's works, still-life artist Alice Ronner, portrait painter Liévin de Winne, and landscape painters François Roffiaen, Jean-Baptiste Kindermans, and Paul Lauters. Realists Charles de Groux and Constantin Meunier were followed by Impressionists Henri Evenepoel and Théo Van Rysselberghe. Neoimpressionist painters included George Lemmen and Auguste Oleffe. Franz Courtens (1854-1943) painted landscape scenes in the open air in Uccle and Vilvoorde in the 1870s. In 1922 he was created a baron, the first landscape artist so honored. James Ensor (1860-1949), whose most famous paintings included Christ's Entry into Brussels (1888), studied at the Académie royal des Beaux-Arts.Artists included Amédée Lynen (1856-1938) whose work as an illustrator, watercolorist, and engraver concentrated on subjects from daily life in Brussels. Georges Lemmen (1865-1916), born in Schaer-beek and a resident of Saint-Josse-ten-Noode, illustrated books but also paper and rugs. Another resident of Saint-Josse (rue du Cadran), Alfred Courtens (1889-1967) was a noted sculptor whose works, notably of monarchs Leopold II, Albert I, and Leopold III, appeared across Belgium.Symbolism first appeared in the works of Xavier Mellery, whose pupil, Fernand Khnopff, emerged as a principal Belgian symbolist and a forerunner of the surrealists. Khnopff was a founding member of Les XX, created in 1893, a movement that exemplified the exuberant avant-garde atmosphere in Brussels in the late 19th century when groupings of artists (Voorwaarts , Pour l'Art ) flourished. These associations brought to Brussels innovative works by foreign artists, including Georges Seurat and Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec from France and Jan Toorop and Vincent Van Gogh from the Netherlands, who stressed the genius of the individual in breaking away from academic styles.The jury of the Académie, of which Khnopff was a member, awarded first prize for composition to Antwerp-born Armand Paulis (1884-1979) for his La Vie et La Mort (Life and death), a representative symbolist work. Paulis, who worked throughout his life in Brussels, in addition to paintings created designs in stained glass (Papeteries de Belgique building, rue de la Grande Île).Rik Wouters, whose work was reminiscent of that of Paul Cézanne, led the way toward fauvism, a style exhibited in works by Edgard Tyt-gat, Fernand Schirren, and Jean Brusselmans. Surrealism arrived in Brussels in the late 1920s, a leading exponent being René Magritte, whose distinctive style earned worldwide repute. Surrealist painter E. I. I. Mesens (1903-1971) was born in Brussels (rue de la Grand Île 36) and worked here before moving to London in 1939. Noteworthy painters of the interwar years include Paul Delvaux and Raoul Ubac.Following World War II, Christian Dotremont, born in Tervuren on 28 September 1922, founded the Mouvement revolutionnaire surréaliste in Brussels in 1947. He was also a founding member of the COBRA group, which included Pierre Alechinky (1927- ) from Brussels. In 1962, Dotremont wrote his first logograms (lo-gogrammes), word paintings of signs and combinations of signs using pens and paintbrushes and employing ink and oil pastels on paper, photographs, and even glass. He died in Buizingen, in Flemish Brabant, on 20 August 1979.Major international trends of the middle and late 20th century were faithfully reflected in the works of artists in Brussels. They run the gamut from the simple pictorial images of Jean-Michel Folon, born in Uccle in 1934, to the works of Marcel Broodhaers, which exemplify elements of surrealism, pop art, and conceptual art. Brussels-born Jean-Pierre Müller (1967- ) is a prolific contemporary artist.
Historical Dictionary of Brussels. Paul F. State.
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