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TECHNIQUES: Realism and naturalism

Jan van Eyck, Madonna at the Fountain

The Flemish primitives are known for Realism, Naturalism and Illusionism in their art. The refined technique of oil painting made it possible to represent various things such as textile, metal and precious stones in great detail. The rendering of light and shadow was also refined by the Flemish primitives. This manner of painting raises the suggestion that the artists imitated reality in high detail, but nothing is further from the truth. The compositions are assembled and orchestrated and the portraits are often stylised and a bit idealised. This nevertheless lead to astonishing art.

Anne van Oosterwijk