This beautifully illustrated book provides a complete overview of the art of the Southern Netherlands from 1585 to 1700, the years between the separation of the Southern from Northern provinces and the end of Spanish rule. Eminent Flemish art historian Hans Vlieghe examines the development of Flemish and specifically Antwerp painting, the activity and influence of Rubens and such other leading masters as Van Dyck and Jordaens, the Antwerp tradition of specialization among painters, and the sculpture and architecture of this period. He also describes the socioeconomic and political conditions that facilitated the rise, evolution, and expansion of Flemish art, focusing particularly on the Counter Reformation, which stimulated construction and decoration of new churches according to rules set out by the Council of Trent.
In the first half of the seventeenth century, Antwerp painting rapidly became one of the highlights of Baroque art. This was clearly linked to the activity of Rubens, who was immensely important not only for the astonishing stylistic quality of his work and for his enormous influence on several generations of painters, but also for his workshop practice modeled on the Italian method and his ability to familiarize others with Italian Renaissance and Early Baroque art. Yet Rubens's work can only be understood fully in the context of the Antwerp tradition. Vlieghe organizes the book around the pictorial categories of Antwerp's specialists-monumental history, cabinet history, portrait, genre, landscape and architectural, still life, animal and hunting scenes-and discusses the contributions of well known and lesser known artists to each type of painting.
Hans Vlieghe is professor of art history at the Katholieke Universiteit Leuven (Louvain) and research director of the Belgian Nationaal Fonds voor Wetenschappelijk Onderzoek at the Rubenianum, Antwerp. He is a member of the editorial board of Corpus Rubenianum and author of several books on Flemish art.