Antwerp School

The Antwerp School was a school of artists active in Antwerp, first during the 16th century when the city was the economic center of the Low Countries, and then during the 17th century when it became the artistic stronghold of the Flemish Baroque under Peter Paul Rubens.

Antwerp took over from Bruges as the main trading and commercial center of the Low Countries around 1500. Painters, artists and craftsmen joined the Guild of Saint Luke, which educated apprentices and guaranteed quality.

This guild guaranteed the quality and education of young talent. Artists first had to follow a course with a master as a pupil. The young pupils had to redecorate chores such as mixing pigments, painting draperies and making studies.

Antwerp becomes at the expense of Bruges the main trading and trading center of the Netherlands around the year 1500. The painters, artists and craftsmen adhere to the guild of Saint-Luc, which educates apprentices and guarantees the quality of their work .

The first school of artists that emerged in the city were the Antwerp Mannerists, a group of anonymous late Gothic painters active in the city from about 1500 to 1520. They were followed by Mannerist painters in the Italian tradition that developed at the end of the High Renaissance. Jan Gossaert was a major artist in the city at this time. Other artists, such as Frans Floris, continued this style.

From Gothic Mannerism to Italianism
The iconoclastic riots (‘Beeldenstorm’ in Dutch) of 1566 that preceded the Dutch Revolt resulted in the destruction of many works of religious art, after which time the churches and monasteries had to be refurnished and redecorated. Artists such as Otto van Veen and members of the Francken family, working in a late mannerist style, provided new religious decoration. It also marked a beginning of economic decline in the city, as the Scheldt river was blockaded by the Dutch Republic in 1585 diminishing trade.

Flemish Renaissance
The Iconoclasm of 1566 led to the destruction of many religious works of art. The reconstruction and redesign of churches and monasteries gave a new impetus to painting. Artists such as Otto van Veen and members of the Francken family, who worked in a late-Mannerist style, painted numerous altarpieces to replace the destroyed and disappeared works. The fall of Antwerp in 1585 marked the beginning of the economic downturn of the city.

The city experienced an artistic renewal in the 17th century. The large workshops of Peter Paul Rubens and Jacob Jordaens, and the influence of Anthony van Dyck, made Antwerp the center of Flemish art. The city was an internationally important publishing center, and had a huge production of old master prints and book illustrations. The Baroque style of the Antwerp school became the dominant style in the Southern Netherlands and is known as the Flemish Baroque.

The large workshops of Peter Paul Rubens and Jacob Jordaens, and the influence of Anthony van Dyck, made Antwerp the center of the Flemish Baroque. The city was an internationally significant publishing centre, and had a huge production of old master prints and book illustrations. Antwerp animaliers or animal painters, such as Frans Snyders, Jan Fyt and Paul de Vos dominated this speciality in Europe for at least the first half of the century. Many artists joined the Guild of Romanists, a society for which having visited Rome was a condition of membership. But as the economy continued to decline, and the Habsburg Governors and the Church reduced their patronage, many artists trained in Antwerp left for the Netherlands, England, France or elsewhere, and by the end of the 17th century Antwerp was no longer a major centre for art.

But as the economy continues to decline and the Habsburg governors and the Church reduce their patronage, many artists trained in Antwerp go to the Netherlands, England, France or elsewhere, and at the end of the seventeenth century the city is no longer a major center of art.

The artistic legacy of Antwerp is represented in many museums, and paintings of the Antwerp School are valued at auctions.

The artists of the Antwerp School
The artists come from all Flanders, such as Mechelen and Brussels Bernard van Orley and Jan Gossaert (“Mabuse”) or the Dutch Jan Mostaert. To the north, in Utrecht and Middelburg, Jan van Scorel, disciple of Mabuse, is the best Dutch romanticist.

Bruges native Lancelot Blondeel, Jan Matsys of Antwerp (from the Fontainebleau School) and Amstellodamese Lambert Sustris (Titian’s disciple) are the main representatives of Scholarly Mannerism, which will also develop in Haarlem with Maarten van Heemskerck in Liège. with Lambert Lombard (pupil of Mabuse) and Antwerp with Frans Floris.

At the end of the sixteenth century, Antwerp’s Maarten de Vos, Ambrosius I Francken or Dutch Otto van Veen, Hendrik Goltzius, Abraham Bloemaert, Friedrich Sustris (son of Lambert) and Bartholomeus Spranger chose eclecticism.

The portrait specialists are the Flemish Willem Key, Pieter Pourbus and Frans Pourbus the Elder, as well as Dutch Dirk Jacobsz, Dirck Barendsz and Cornelis Ketel, but Antonio Moro is the only one to gain international fame.

Pieter Brueghel the Elder represents northern realism, which will be continued by his son Pieter Brueghel the Younger and his grandson Pieter Brueghel. Jan Brueghel the Elder, another son of Pieter Brueghle the Elder, is a specialist in landscape painting and floral arrangements. This genre is launched in the Antwerp school by the Flemings Herri Met de Bles and Jacob Grimmer, followed by Lucas and Marten van Valckenborch (in), linked to Frankfurt, Paul Bril, Joos of Momper, Tobias Verhaecht (first master of Rubens).

In the great upheavals both political and religious experienced in the southern Netherlands, appear the applications of the new rules of perspective initiated by the Italians in the previous century. It was Hans Vredeman de Vries, who was the first in the middle of the sixteenth century, who, by his treatises, gave birth to the “architectural painting” as a real subject of the Antwerp School, and the appearance of the theme of views. interiors of churches. Although the origin of the genre, it produces few tables. His pupils are Hendrik van Steenwijck the Elder and his son Paul Vredeman de Vries and Hendrick Aerts.

From the various works published by Hans Vredeman de Vries, many painters continue and develop this branch. This is how Hendrik van Steenwijck the Elder trains his own son Hendrik van Steenwijck the Younger and Johann Wolfang Aveman. These last two having been formed together, their production at the beginning of the seventeenth century is very similar, and it is particularly difficult to fix certain attributions.

Another artist, Abel Grimmer, trained by his father Jacob, paints mainly country scenes, village views, seasons, and months, but then addresses the theme of views of church interiors inspired by works by Hendrik van Steenwijck the Elder and Paul Vrederman de Vries. There are currently over 35 paintings of church interiors attributed to him.

Then appears the family Neefs, Pieter the father says Old or the Old then his two sons Lodevick “frater” (1617 -?) And Pieter the Younger. At the beginning of his career, Peeter Neefs the Elder was inspired by the work of Hendrik van Steenwijck the younger, and then gradually developed his own models. These were more and more developed and the Atelier des Neeffs is credited with more than 450 paintings on the theme of church interiors [ref. desired]. It seems that this workshop at certain periods occupied nearly 20 collaborators under contractors and apprentices.

Later, the School of Antwerp includes on this theme the painters Anton Gunther Gheringh and Wilhem Schubert von Ehrenberg (1637 – 1676).

Given the wars during this period and the policy of repression of Philip II of Spain, interventions of the Inquisition, many painters exile themselves, come back to Antwerp during calm periods, then exile again. Thus some are in Aachen, Frankfurt am Main, Nuremberg, Prague, Danzig, etc. and especially in the United Provinces: in Delft, Utrecht, Middelburg, Rotterdam and Amsterdam. Thus Bartholomeus van Bassen, born in Antwerp among others, will transmit the rules and practices of the Antwerp School to his pupils in the United Provinces.