Frans Crabbe van Espleghem

Datesabout 1480 - 1552

Frans Crabbe van Espleghem, one of the leading artists in Mechelen, the capital of the southern Netherlands, began his career painting altarpieces. After Albrecht Dürer's visit to the Netherlands in 1521, Crabbe began exploring the medium of printmaking. He combined Italianate figure types with a concern for atmosphere and depth in landscape and a focus on ordinary daily life and humble people, both taken from Lucas van Leyden's prints.

In 1539 Crabbe acquired the workshop of an artist who had introduced the South German etching technique to the North. Crabbe was one of etching's earliest Netherlandish practitioners. He also worked as an engraver and woodcutter, but his etching was notable for success in a medium that his contemporaries considered limited. Using only lines, he depicted striking lighting and atmospheric conditions and created graphic equivalents for painting. Combining the Netherlandish restraint of gesture and interest in light and shadow with the dashing, delicate pen work of contemporary German artists, Crabbe made precise preparatory drawings for his etchings.

Related Works