New Publications: Jan de Beer, Gothic Renewal in Renaissance Antwerp

mef_9Jan de Beer, Gothic Renewal in Renaissance Antwerp

Author: D. Ewing

Brepols Publishers

The first published monograph on the Antwerp painter Jan de Beer (c.1475-1527 /28), with an oeuvre catalogue.

The Antwerp painter Jan de Beer (c.1475-1527/28) was highly esteemed in his lifetime and still famous forty years after his death, but then fell into oblivion until the early twentieth century. This monograph is the first published, comprehensive study of his art and career. Its biography is the result of a thorough search of the archives and includes a recently discovered teaching contract with Lieven van Male of Ghent. All documents are fully transcribed, including documents for the artist’s painter-son, Aert de Beer (c.1508-1538/40). Results from technical studies of the artist’s work, including underdrawings and dendrochronological dating, are incorporated throughout the book.

The artist’s surviving oeuvre consists of forty works, mainly devotional paintings and triptychs but also a dozen drawings and a stained glass window in Antwerp Cathedral after a lost design. De Beer’s stylish, elegant art exerted a powerful appeal upon the buying public, churches abroad, and copyists. His lost Adoration of the Magi was the best-selling painting design in Antwerp at the time. De Beer is further important as one of only two Antwerp artists of his generation for whom a significant body of drawings exists. The catalogue of paintings and drawings by the artist and his workshop, including the numerous copies and variants, comes to over 170 works.

De Beer’s art is typically associated with the work of the Antwerp Mannerists, a prominent group of painters active in the city during his lifetime. This study argues that De Beer’s work, plus that of the Mannerists and the city’s retable carvers, should be understood as a novel, modern expression of late Gothic art, a sixteenth-century renewal of the Gothic mode that was also manifested in contemporary architecture, calligraphy, music and poetry.

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