The Flemish Primitives: The Masterpieces

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Princeton University Press, 2002 - Art - 216 pages
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Intensely realistic, piercingly beautiful, the art of the Flemish Primitives inspires powerful emotional responses. Painted during the fifteenth century, in the southern Netherlands, these influential and enduring works helped establish the foundations of modern European painting.

Sumptuously illustrated with more than two hundred color reproductions, including many newly photographed details, this gorgeous book showcases the art of these master painters of the Northern Renaissance. It focuses on thoughtfully selected major works by the most important of the artists who were later--and rather misleadingly--dubbed the Flemish Primitives: Robert Campin (the Master of Flémalle), Jan van Eyck, Rogier van der Weyden, Petrus Christus, Dieric Bouts, Hugo van der Goes, Hans Memling, and Gerard David.

Working at the hub and heart of the Burgundian realm, these artists ushered in the triumph of realism. Their new system of painting in transparent layers yielded colors of a saturation and depth never before seen and imbued their sensual human forms with a stunning luminosity. They developed new symbolic associations, experimented with light, and expressed the cultural changes taking place around them, including a heightened spirituality and the emergence of a wealthy bourgeoisie.

Dirk de Vos's fluidly written text highlights the artists' remarkable technical innovations while also considering the rapidly evolving economic and social milieu in which they worked. The result is both a thoughtful assessment of some of Europe's greatest masterpieces and a glorious tribute to the artists who bestowed them on the world.

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