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The Low Countries: Creativity, Invention & Inspiration (Netherlandish, Flemish and Dutch Art)

26 September 2023 - 5 December 2023

10.45 – 12.45 Tuesdays

£73.00 – £610.00

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This course will bring together the Golden Age of Dutch, Flemish and early to late Netherlandish Art. We will examine their changing face from the 14th to 16th century and how and why the meaning and function evolved and why artists were drawn to particular subject matters.

“I have loved this course. Despite the breadth of the subject, Leslie made it “manageable” and despite his detailed examination of some works and artists, the pace never flagged.”

Course Outline

26 Sept 2023 – Heaven, Hell and Damnation: The Late Medieval World of Hieronymus Bosch       

We will look at the life and work of the late medieval visionary, Hieronymus Bosch, study his obsessions with creatures (real, hybrid or invented) paradise, hell and damnation. The prejudice and fear that might befall them in the afterlife gave Bosch’s landscapes a different and visceral meaning while his influence on artists was wide-ranging from Dürer to Michelangelo. But there are still many mysteries that surround his life.


03 Oct 2023 – The Life and Times of Jan Van Eyck and The Arnolfini Portrait

We will examine the life and times of Jan van Eyck through his most celebrated work, the Arnolfini Portrait.  Although van Eyck died in Bruges in 1441, the fame he achieved during his lifetime never diminished and that fame has been principally sustained by two iconic works – The Adoration of the Mystic Lamb, also called the Ghent Altarpiece, and The Arnolfini Portrait. His fame, through the latter has been enhanced over the intervening centuries by successive reproductions and re-imaginings even appearing in the opening credits of the American drama “Desperate Housewives”.


10 Oct 2023 – No lecture 


17 Oct 2023 – The Dutch Masters of Light: From Utrech to Rome

The C17th is often known as the Golden Age of Dutch Art. Many artists with outstanding talent tackled new areas of subject matter and although these novel subjects had their foundation in the C16th, it was only in the C17th that portraiture, landscape, still life, and genre became subjects in their own right. They replaced religious art which was tolerated but discouraged in the increasingly Protestant climate of the Dutch Republic and merchants became the new patrons of art replacing the Church and nobility.


24 Oct 2023 – Tulip Fever, Flower Painting & Landscapes in The Dutch Republic

The Dutch obsession with love of nature in many ways emulated a similar fascination by Italian Renaissance artists and we will explore the particular form of Dutch naturalism with its fantastical depictions of animals in improbable landscapes and the ubiquitous phenomena of Dutch flower paintings. Artists in this session will include Jan Both, Cornelis van Poelenburgh, Jacob van Ruisdael, Aelbert Cuyp, Meindert Hobbema and Peter Paul Rubens.


31 Oct 2023 – Vermeer: Life & Work & The Delft School of Painting 

Today we will investigate the enigmatic and illusive life of Johannes Vermeer within the historical context of painting in Delft. From his early productions to his final great works including the iconic ‘Girl with a Pearl Earring’, all of his limited but much-admired oeuvre will be explored.


07 Nov 2023 – Rembrandt (1606 – 1669): A Life in Portraiture

During a lifetime that saw Rembrandt produce over 60 self-portraits, we will not only look at these, but also his origins from his hometown of Leiden to the lure of Amsterdam which would fuel his enduring fascination with portraiture including his successful career in the field of multiple groups ultimately leading to an in-depth exploration of his iconic “Nightwatch” in Amsterdam’s Rijksmuseum.


14 Nov 2023 – Early Dutch & Flemish Masters in England & The Rise of The Baroque

Early Dutch and Flemish artists came to England to establish a new way of painting and a new genre in art – from miniatures to manuscript illuminations and portraiture. We will look at the turmoil and strife as well as the fierce competition for lucrative patronages which accompanied their arrival during the age of Henry VIII to the execution of Charles I.


21 Nov 2023 – Mannerism Vs Nature

Mannerism vs Nature will be an exploration of the Low Country painters’ reaction to developments in the High Renaissance.  We will begin in the late C16th looking at a new development that would eventually be characterized as ‘Mannerism’, taking in artistic styles of the human form beyond the dissections and obsession with anatomy of earlier Renaissance artists such as Leonardo da Vinci. Artists featured will include, Joachim Wtewael, Joachim Beuckelaer, Pieter Aertsen, Andrea Mantegna, Pellegrino Tibaldi, Parmigianino, Bronzino, Michelangelo Buonarroti and Peter Paul Rubens.


28 Nov 2023 – Rubens and The State of Europe

The rise of Peter Paul Rubens, war in Europe, Reformation and Counter-Reformation will form the backdrop for this lecture’s exploration of the great Flemish master’s output.  From his continuous and extensive travels in Europe both for artistic and diplomatic imperatives, we will trace his life through paintings and observe how the two disciplines converged and even enhanced each other.


05 Dec 2023 – Van Dyck and The State of England

The final session will look at the Flemish painter, who above all, would influence the course of British art for the next 100 years – Anthony Van Dyck. His most well-known works, such as the Triple Portrait of Charles I, the Self-Portrait with Sunflower, and the Self-Portrait with Endymion Porter, will be discussed. These works will be placed in the context of competition from rival Dutch and Flemish artists in England, the political climate at this turbulent moment in English history, and his love of Renaissance art, particularly that of Titian.


26 September 2023
5 December 2023
£73.00 – £610.00
Course Category:


Leslie Primo


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