Art of the Low Countries  

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The Smoker (ca. 1654 - 1662) by Joos van Craesbeeck
The Smoker (ca. 1654 - 1662) by Joos van Craesbeeck
Girl with a Pearl Earring (ca. 1665, Het Meisje met de Parel) by Johannes Vermeer
Girl with a Pearl Earring (ca. 1665, Het Meisje met de Parel) by Johannes Vermeer

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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.
Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.

Art of the Low Countries is painting, sculpture, architecture, printmaking, and other forms of visual art produced in the Low Countries, and since the 19th century in Belgium and the Netherlands. It includes the traditions of Early Netherlandish painting and the Renaissance in the Low Countries. During the 17th century Dutch Golden Age painting prominently represents the artistic culture of the northern Netherlands while Flemish Baroque painting and the art of Peter Paul Rubens is the cornerstone of art in the southern Netherlands.


Early Netherlandish

Early Netherlandish painting

Early Netherlandish art includes those artists, more notably painters, who were active during the 15th and early 16th centuries in the Low Countries, especially in the flourishing cities of Bruges and Ghent. It begins approximately with the careers of Robert Campin and Hubert and Jan van Eyck around 1400 and ends with Gerard David about 1520. Other major figures include Rogier van der Weyden, Hugo van der Goes, and Petrus Christus.

Renaissance and Mannerism

Dutch and Flemish Renaissance painting

The 16th century was a period of response to Italian Renaissance art and the development of several distinctly Netherlandish themes. At the start of the century Hieronymus Bosch painted fantastic images, often for courtly viewers, that left a long legacy. Jan Mabuse, Maarten van Heemskerck and Frans Floris were all instrumental in adopting Italian models and incorporating them into their own artistic language. The spread of Mannerism throughout Europe produced important forms of Northern Mannerist art in the Low Countries.

Landscape painting

Finally, Joachim Patinir was a recognized innovator of landscape painting.

Genre painting

Genre painting in the Low Countries

Pieter Bruegel the Elder and Pieter Aertsen helped establish genre painting as a popular subject matter.

Baroque and classicism

Dutch Golden Age painting, Flemish Baroque painting

The 17th century was a period dominated by the distinct individuals Peter Paul Rubens in the Southern Netherlands and Rembrandt van Rijn in the newly independent Dutch Republic. Dutch and Flemish painters both followed many of the same themes, including still life, genre, landscape, portraiture and classicism. Other artistic tendencies clearly differentiated art in the south from the north: the Counter-Reformation, which spurred on patronage for large altarpieces in the south, was absent from the Dutch Republic, while Flemish painting did not see the development of the types of calm, single-figure genre paintings championed by the likes of Jan Vermeer.


The most famous painter from the region in the late 17th and early 18th century is Antoine Watteau, whose hometown of Valenciennes had been annexed by France a decade before he was born. Otherwise, few painters from about 1700 until the end of the United Kingdom of the Netherlands in 1830 have been incorporated into the art historical discourse. Dutch painters such as Jacob de Wit adopted a lofty Rococo style, indebted somewhat to Rubens, for ceiling decorations, but there was little work available. Other painters, such as Cornelis Troost, looked to England and especially the works of William Hogarth, for inspiration.

After 1830

Art after 1830 in Belgium and the Netherlands follow separate paths as the countries further develop their own identities. James Ensor is an important figure from Belgium, while Vincent van Gogh, from the Netherlands, posthumously reached the level of modern superstar painter.

See also

Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Art of the Low Countries" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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