What Is Flemish Art?

Diana and Her Nymphs / Rubens

Powerful realism, glowing colors, and emotional expression are the hallmarks of the art of Flanders, the northern part of modern-day Belgium.

Flemish painters of the 15th and 16th centuries such as Jan van Eyck and Rogier van der Weyden (image below) were famed for their intense colors, naturalistic details, and atmospheric landscapes.

The work of 17th-century masters such as Jacob Jordaens and Peter Paul Rubens (image right) exudes a sensuality and exuberance that contrasts dramatically with David's austere classicizing style.

David would have seen the work of these and other Flemish artists in the Louvre and in the museums and churches of Brussels and the nearby cities of Antwerp, Ghent, and Bruges. Affected by what he saw, he wrote a former student, "if I had had the good fortune to come to their country earlier, I think I would have become a colorist."

The Deposition / Follower of Weyden