Belgium Architecture and Minor Arts

According to smber, Brussels, Audenaarde and Tournai produce decorative tapestries. There is no precise information on the origins of the tapestry in Belgium, whose art reached a very high degree and for several centuries had to spread throughout Europe. However, it seems that the Paris laboratories predated the Belgian ones. The tapestries of the Apocalypse, currently in Angers, were executed by Nicola Bataille in 1376 on the cartoons of John of Bruges, painter of Charles V. The protection that the brother of this king, Philip the Bold Duke of Burgundy, granted to the factories of Arras, was very valid, and their production was so abundant that the name of “tapestry” derived from the name of the city of Arras, with which these works are called in Italy, whatever their origin. The tapestry with the legend of S. Piat and S. Eleuterio in the cathedral of Tournai, which bears the date of 1402, is one of the best essays of the art of tapestry in Arras. Then Tournai rivaled Arras. Finally the factories of Brussels, for which Van der Weyden worked and after him Van Orley (Cacce di Massimiliano), in the fifteenth, sixteenth and seventeenth centuries they produced many magnificent works that took place in parallel with painting (see tapestry). This art, once so cultivated, is now only occasionally exercised by isolated artists (e.g. Miss Dubois).

The laboratories of Brussels and Antwerp manufactured in large numbers the altarpieces in carved, gilded or polychrome wood, for churches and chapels. At the same time the arts of stained glass, goldsmithing, wrought iron, embossed copper, tin, sandstone produced valuable works for the purity of style and perfection of execution.

This period of the primitives (1350-1550), so splendid for painting, saw a magnificent flowering blossom in the field of other arts. The Gothic style had gradually taken the place of the Romanesque in architecture. A choir was added to the Cathedral of Tournai; the great abbeys of Saint-Bavon, Afflighem, Lobbes, Orval and Villers, founded in previous centuries, are restored and enlarged in the new style. Some churches, such as Sainte-Gudule in Brussels, Sainte-Waudru in Mons, S. Salvatore in Bruges and many others, bear witness to the fervor of the faithful as well as to the prosperity of the country. The municipalities, proud of their free immunities, erect towers and build municipal buildings (Brussels, Audenaarde, Leuven).

Noteworthy are the delicate 16th century alabasters by J. Du Broeucq in Mons.

Flemish RenaissanceRubens and his contemporaries. – After the somewhat faded period of the Romanists and Italianeggianti, an era of splendor arises; a great artist rediscovers national inspiration and exalts it, also taking advantage of foreign training: Pietro Paolo Rubens (1577-1640; v.) whose work is the largest known. Two thousand five hundred paintings are attributed to him, almost all of them large, which are scattered in the collections of Europe and America. Several of these are preserved in the Brussels Museum, and among them two masterpieces, The Ascent to Calvary and the Martyrdom of San Liévin ; also the churches and museums of Antwerp have some of his paintings, for example. the famous Deposition from the Cross. Rubens’s paintings, for the majestic splendor of the color of the flesh and the opulent fabrics, have something joyfully festive and are the exaltation of an active and serene life.

Antonio van Dyck (1599: 1641; v.) Was Rubens’ collaborator and best pupil. He was one of the most distinguished masters of the portrait. His influence was enormous on English and French art of the century. XVIII. His main works are found in England, but some can also be admired in the museums of Belgium and Italy.

Giacomo Jordaens (1593-1673; v) was also a pupil of Rubens and followed him in the exaltation of material existence: banquets and cheerful and noisy groups. This artist can be fully appreciated in the Brussels Museum.

These three great artists illustrate the Flemish school of the Renaissance, but they are not enough to summarize it. Around them the painters are grouped in numerous, but unlike Rubens, who had a universal genius, they willingly specialize in a single genre: De Crayer (1582-1669) paints religious subjects, Snyders (1579-1657) animals, hunts and fruits, Cornelio de Vos (1584-1651) portraits, Teniers (1610-1690) country festivals, Brauwer (1605-1638) popular types; and So many others, many of them little known, whose works now fill the museums of Belgium: Brussels, Antwerp, Ghent, Bruges, Liège.

This whole period characterized by Rubens is still a beautiful era; the Gothic, after being loaded with ornaments to the extreme, gives way to the Renaissance style, which then deviates into the Baroque style. A sculptor from Liège, Giovanni Delcour, has an enchanting grace, which he owes, at least in part, to Bernini.

The tapestries, the stained glass windows, the furniture follow the general rhythm of the time.

Belgium Architecture and Minor Arts