Flemish and dutch paintings - Religious and historical scenes

Come and explore the Nordic paintings from le Musée Bertrand's collections that reflect society's artistic sensibility in the second half of the 19th century. The place of religion, from the Renaissance to the 19th century.

Old Church of Delft (1655) by Hendrick Cornelisz VAN DER VLIETMusée Bertrand

The painters of Delft.

Hendrick Cornelisz van Vliet trained as a portrait artist before turning to the depiction of architecture. He mainly depicted views of the two main churches in Delft and studied their attendance. In the 17th century, the two churches were also used as burial grounds, as shown here by the gravedigger who is preparing a grave by laying wooden boards to protect the edges of the pit.

The man breaks off to answer questions from a man and his child.

At the bottom right, two figures appear to be consulting plans.

The bright light penetrating the sanctuary illuminates the very beautiful colonnade that leads to the choir, where the faithful are gathered. The perspective work is remarkable.
The two churches in Delft would be the main theme of van Vliet's paintings.

Burning of a Village (17th century) by Egbert Lievensz VAN DER POELMusée Bertrand

The city of Delft is a great inspiration to the Nordic artists.
In 1654, the city's gunpowder store (depicted here) exploded and destroyed a large part of the city. Van der Poel, deeply affected, would go on to devote a large part of his work to this. For his numerous descriptions of the catastrophic events that occurred, he would be considered one of the best painters of fire in the Netherlands.

Lit up by the flames coming from a roof, the villagers try to flee, trying to save their belongings and furniture. Bodies and objects are intermingled.
The scene is immersed in a chiaroscuro with powerful contrasts. The glow of the flames strikes the walls of a large building and slides over the bodies of the inhabitants.

The Temptation of Saint Anthony (15th century) by Inspired by Hiéronimus BOSCHMusée Bertrand

Struggle between Good and Evil

This anonymous painting provides us with an interesting interpretation of a section of the central panel of "The Temptation of Saint Anthony" by Jérôme Bosch, presented at the Museu Nacional de Arte Antiga in Lisbon. It evokes the struggle between Good and Evil that was faced by Saint Anthony who was tempted on numerous occasions by the Devil during his retreat in the Egyptian desert.

On a checkerboard terrace, the saint, in prayer, facing a head on legs, is distracted from his bliss and becomes aware of his demonic entourage, hybrid figures and strange beasts as only Bosch knew how to invent.

A curious animal playing the lyre is sat on a kind of turtle, next to a fish carrying strange travelers.

Other strange creatures complete the surrealist evocation of the torments of Saint Anthony recounted by Athanasius and Saint Jérôme.

Sabbat Scene (C. 1635) by Claes Nicolae Jacobsz van der HECKMusée Bertrand

Demonic world and witchcraft.
We find, in this very detailed fictional scene, strange creatures of Boschian inspiration leading a cortege toward the fires of Hell symbolized by the cauldron in the top left.

A mixture of a man and a donkey, the figure at the bottom center of the painting holding a spell book is the alchemist who controls the transformations of the monsters that swarm around him. He is holding a spell book and is stamping on a publication probably relating to the Holy Scriptures.

A strange beast precedes him, offering a woman dressed in white as a symbol of virginity as a sacrifice to the diabolical deity who rules the Witches' Sabbath.

In the center of the painting, women worship a statue sat on a bowl holding a scepter and a flaming cup.

To its right, a round dance at the foot of a basilica and lower down, at the foot of a fountain decorated with a nymph, a strange cortege is rubbing shoulders with a procession led by an antonin, a white monk, a pope, and a cardinal.

The Resting of the Holy Family in a Garland of Flowers (17th century) by Andries DANIELSZ and Hendrik le Vieux VAN BALENMusée Bertrand

New Testament Scene

As in other countries, it was also common among the Nordic painters for several painters to work on the same painting. Some of them were specialized in the depiction of nature, people, animals, or architecture. Here, it is a work by Andrieds Danielsz and Hendrieck van Balen.

At the feet of Mary, the little Saint John the Baptist greets the birth of Jesus accompanied by the lamb, his symbolic Christ-like attribute prefiguring the Savior's sacrifice.

The crown, made up of around fifty varieties of flowers associated with fruits and insects, has metaphorical meanings.

The rose and its perfume (virtue), the narcissus reminds us that we must disregard beauty which is dangerous for the soul, the tulip grants numerous virtues, the carnation condemns the body's musky perfume…

As for the fruits, the strawberry is the food of Paradise and the currants ripen on St. John's Day.

Pietà (C. 15e siècle) by Flemish anonymousMusée Bertrand

In the 15th and 16th centuries, the requirements for exalted piety impose an emphasis on pathos, expressing the pain of the Virgin Mary.

Helped by Joseph, Mary tenderly wraps her arm around her son's shoulder to support his head.

Kneeling, Mary Magdalene tries to hold the shroud. At her side is a bottle most likely containing perfumes, with which she has already anointed the feet of Christ at the home of Simon the Pharisee.

Burial of Jesus (17th century) by Dirck VAN BABURENMusée Bertrand

This painting is one of many variants and copies of one of the most famous religious compositions of the 17th century : The Entombment of Christ by Caravaggio.

In it, we recognize Joseph of Arimathea, assisted by Nicodemus, placing the body of a Christ in his tomb.

The grieving Virgin Mary is accompanied by the two Marys.

The Story of Esther (17th century) by Frans II FRANCKENMusée Bertrand

Opera and Tragedy

This very beautiful oil on copper reads like a comic book.
It illustrates the main episodes in the life of Esther, from Racine's famous tragedy, which underwent a revival in the 17th century. The narrative process employed by Frans Francken II the Younger was often used by the artists of his generation.

In the background, at the request of Mordecai, Esther implores King Ahasuerus to go with his vizier Haman to a feast at which she will make important revelations.

During the meal, Esther reveals the criminal designs of Haman, who is planning the hanging of Mordecai and a pogrom against the Jewish people.

Furious with his vizier who had already plotted against him, Ahasuerus has Haman hanged on the gallows which were reserved for Mordecai.

Bilberries and Amaryllis (End of 17th century) by Flemish anonymousMusée Bertrand

This scene illustrates the love story of Myrtille and Amaryllis, an episode borrowed from the tragi-comedy of Il Pastor Fido by Guarini.

The shepherd Myrtille has disguised himself as a woman to approach Amaryllis, with whom he is in love.

One of the nymphs suggests a kissing contest to all of her companions. Myrtille takes advantage of this to participate in the game.
Declared the winner, he would receive the crown of flowers which is found on the base of the column.

Credits: Story

Musée Bertrand de Châteauroux.

Kevin Guillebaud
Candice Signoret

Photos : © Musée Bertrand

D'après les textes de Sandrine Le Bideau in catalogue "Peintures flamande et hollandaise - Collection des musées de Châteauroux" Somogy-Editions d'Art, 2001

Credits: All media
The story featured may in some cases have been created by an independent third party and may not always represent the views of the institutions, listed below, who have supplied the content.
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