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ARTH 375 Lecture Notes - Jan Van Eyck, Petrus Christus, Saint Eligius

Art History
Course Code
ARTH 375
Ron Spronk Allcorrect

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February 12, 2013
Petrus Christus (Bruges) and Dirk Bouts (Louvain)
-Europe is changing rapidly at this time (14th and 15th c)
-from rural to more urban society
-trade developing quickly, more wealth, and wealth is more spread
>a new class developed (burghers> merchants)
>emphasize new status with luxury products
-open art market developing fast ( created without a commission,
paint on ‘speck’ (speculation); very very large market
-14th c key centre of commerce, 46 000 inhabitants!
-one of most important cities
-main trade and banking centre
-biggest trade centre for north western Europe
>Paris other big one
-imp for trade because of waterways> English products; English wool
-home to very first trade exchange
-textile industry big motor of wealth at the time
-also major crises, 1437-1440 revolted against Philip the Good
>siege, plague, famine (some say punished for this)
-final ‘golden age’ in 1440-1500 with fast economic expansion
-favorable climate production and consumption of luxury goods
-main Borgundian court was located in Bruges> brigns lots of people,
including artists
-artists came from outside of Bruges; art moves away from it and to
Antwerp later
-downturn of Bruges started with death of Mary of Burgundy in 1482,
but very slow and gradual
-also silting of the Zwine (river?)
-Antwerp, favoured by the Habsburg dynasty, became new economica
centre in 16th c
Map of Bruges by Marcus Gerards, 1562
Petrus Christus
-died in Burges (1475/6)
-had to become a citizen to become master> need to buy citizenship
-guild did this to prevent outsiders/competition ; artists still paid
-influences in Jan van Eyck AND Rogier van der Weyden
>we don’t know where he trained

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-aquired citizenship 1444
-first artist to use single point perspective in Northern Art
>suggests he may have travelled to Italy
PC, Portrait of a Carthusian, 1446
-carthusians very active in commissioning art
-small oak panel, dated 1446
-first time in a portrait in the north that a figure is place in the
corner of a room> creates actual depth; architecture being
-fly at the bottom: tromp l’oieu
-artist signed and dated the frame
> first three letters of Christ are included ‘XPI’ in greek (with line
above it which means abbreviation; the monogram of Christ Chi Rho )
>also seen with Jan van Eyck
-Anno 1446 was added at a later date
-before 1992 restoration: Halo (not original, added 18th or 19th c)
-should one remove it? Additions sometimes add a lot to this history of
the painting.
-why add halo? Maybe monk became a saint. Maybe the market was
more favorable to saints than monks.
PC, Saint Eligius, 1449
-saint in red. He was a gold smith.
-we know little about the meaning of the panel
-we don’t know who the couple is or why they’re there
-we do know that it’s signed and dated like seen in other
-Saint is weighing a ring, meaning or attribute to his gold smith?
Another example of disguised symbolism? Is it wedding portrait or
bethrothal? Idealized painting? Or vocational painting?
-The Bruges chapel of guild gold and silver smiths was consencrted in
>don’t know if related or not
-Also a halo which was also removed in restoration
>but this actually a saint! These kinds of decisions are tricky
-Vocational portraits> trade, goldsmith, guilds?
-very large, maybe it had a public or semi public function? Altarpiece?
-According to Ainsworth, PC did not have a workshop but worked alone
-but there are very differences in quality
PC, St John the Baptist in Landscape
-doll-like figures; eye placed low, high foreheads, slightly naïve
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