b. about 1415 Haarlem, The Netherlands, d. 1475
Only a century after his death, a University of Louvain professor hailed Dieric Bouts as the "famous inventor in depicting the countryside." Born in Haarlem, Bouts worked mostly in Louvain, where he became city painter in 1468 and married a woman from a wealthy Louvain family. He eventually established a large workshop that employed his two sons. Bouts painted a range of subjects in a style characterized by elongated, calm, reflective figures; rich, controlled colors; and dignified, understated emotion. Like most Netherlandish painters of his time, Bouts made his innovations through religious subjects, from altarpieces to small devotional paintings that people kept in their homes. He was deeply influenced by Rogier van der Weyden, but where Rogier's portraits overwhelm with their beauty and expressive design, Bouts depicted Everyman. His style and investigations of new ways to establish depth in painting greatly influenced contemporary Netherlandish painters. His more homespun portraits and refreshing landscapes also appealed to artists at the end of the century.