Mosan landscape with Metal industry


(1587 - Antwerp - 1631)
Oil on panel 30 x 40.9 cm (11.8 x 16.1 in.) Antwerp - early 17th century

Born into a family of painters, he was the pupil of his father David Ryckaert and then of Tobias Verhaercht, who also trained Peter Paul Rubens and Josse de Momper.

He made a Grand Tour of Italy between the ages of 18 and 23.

When he returned to Antwerp at the age of 24 he became a member of the Guild of Saint Luke and also acquired an excellent reputation.

The development of the subject of fire in Flemish painting tells us a great deal about communication between humanist painters.

With these artists the fires of hell became the controlled fire of metalwork, brass and copper work, and glasswork.

With the forges of Henri Bles (1535) and the Towers of Babel of Bruegel (1565) and Valkenborgh (circa 1570),out went terrors, witches and curses, painters employing their art to depict the techniques of the forge and the mastery of fire by blacksmithsand masters of forging.

These rare paintings much sought by art connoisseurs accurately depict the actions performed when executing these fire-related trades.

Here in a magnificent landscape on the banks of the Meuse, hollowed out of the ancient hills of the Ardennes, where the cliffs attract deep blue glints of light, the intense activity of the forge occupies the foreground: a lime kiln, windmills, blast furnaces and refining workshops all contribute to the process of producing the best iron of the era.

This painting is a representation of the De re metallica book by the scholar Agricola (1556) and a synthesis of the engravings which contributed to its excellence.

The region of Liège was at the forefront of these techniques and we should remember that “the steel making revolution is one of the main achievements in the history of Renaissance techniques”.

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Galerie Florence de Voldère

"Old Master Paintings"

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