Workshop Puzzling art: Painting and cultural identity in sixteenth-century Bruges

In the Fall of 2017, the Groeninge Museum is organising the exhibition Pieter Pourbus and the Claeissens Family. The Bruges painting world in the second half of the 16th Century (12 October 2017 - 21 January 2018). This exhibition examines a period of the Bruges' history of art that is less known than the heavily studied 15th Century of the Flemish Primitives. The art of painting in Bruges, then, charts its own course in the second half of the 16th Century. It is often viewed as conservative and archaic and in the history of art little attention is given to it. A small group of artists, amongst which are Ambrosius Benson, Lancelot Blondeel, Pieter Pourbus and the Claeissens family, anticipate the elite, the bourgeois, the city administration and the free market of painting. The sustaining interest for composition schemes, painting style and brush technique from the 15th Century raise various questions. Who dictated the choice, the consumer or the artist? Were the people from Bruges really so conservative? Or, should the enduring of the 15th-century image types and painting style rather be viewed as the consequence of an individual, cultural identity of Bruges?

While the investigation into Benson and Blondeel is made more difficult by limited knowledge of facts, Pieter Pourbus is primarily studied in depth from the past. People usually leave the oeuvres of the Claeissens family to the side because of reputed conservatism, low quality and repetition. In order to draw conclusions over the artistic choices of Bruges artists and the aesthetic valuation of the buyers is nonetheless essential to explain the art of all of these masters. In the research preceding the exhibition, there are important steps made in the reconstruction of the oeuvres of Pieter Claeissens I and his son Gillis Claeissens. The patrons of Pieter Pourbus were also taken into account. During this workshop the state of affairs in the research is reported and there shall be plenty of time made for discussion.

Workshop Puzzling art: Painting and cultural identity in sixteenth century Bruges
Where: Vriendenzaal, Groeninge Museum, Bruges
When: September 15, 2016
Registration (until September 9) via symposium@brugge.be

(News item June 17, 2016)