Flemish Art Collection launches website on the Flemish Primitives

Flemish Art Collection launches website on the Flemish Primitives

The consortium of the art historical museums of Flanders, the Flemish Art Collection vzw, announces a new website on the Flemish Primitives: www.vlaamseprimitieven.eu. The website shall inform both the interested layman as well as the expert art historian about the world of painting in the Burgundian Low Countries, from Jan van Eyck to Quinten Massijs. Earlier this year a similar thematic website was devoted to the Ostend painter James Ensor.

The Flemish Art Collection (Vlaamse Kunstcollectie vzw (VKC)) is recognised by the Flemish government as a collaborative relationship with an eye towards international promotion within the cultural heritage sector. The vzw is a consortium of the Royal Museum of Fine Arts Antwerp (KMSKA), the Museum of Fine Arts, Ghent (MSK) and the Groeninge Museum of Bruges. In order to make the collections, activity and expertise known abroad, the Flemish Art Collection decided to create highly comprehensive websites on specific artists or art periods.

As a result, in February, an initial thematic website over James Ensor was launched. The website is an irrefutable success. Since the launch, 30.000 people from some 100 countries have already visited the website. An average of seven pages per visitor is a clear testimony of the appreciation of the site. Some ten percent of the visitors have visited the website more than 10 times already! In addition, the international ambition is attested. Half of the visitors are from outside of Belgium. The Flemish Art Collection is confident that the numbers will easily be doubled for a website dedicated to the more well-known Flemish Primitives.

In addition to the Flemish Primitives collections from the established partner museums of the KMSKA, MSK and the Groeninge Museum, the collections from the museums M in Leuven, Mayer van den Bergh in Antwerp and the Memling in Sint-Jan’s Hospital in Bruges are also displayed, along with the collections from the Saint Bavo Cathedral in Ghent and the Sint-Salvator Cathedral in Bruges. Thanks to a collaboration with Lukas, Art in Flanders, vzw, most of the works of art can be zoomed-in upon quite intensively so that the perfection of the painting technique of the Primitives is apparent.  With most of the multi-panels, one can view each panel separately. Detail photos are also taken from the most important works. The Flemish Research Centre for the Arts in the Burgundian Netherlands of the Bruges museums and the Centre for the Study of Flemish Primitives of the Royal Institute for Cultural Heritage (KIK) are responsible for the guarantee of the scientific and art historical correctness of the information provided.

In the Research rubric, among other things, a detailed web publication can be accessed on how the painters from the Burgundian Low Countries came to be known under the collective name of the ‘Flemish Primitives’. The website does not limit itself, however, to this group of painters who are relatively easy to group stylistically together from the southern Low Countries in the 15th Century and the first quarter of the 16th Century. There are four additional categories distinguished by artists or works of art: the few examples of pre-Van Eyck painting in our region has a spot, as do Northern or Southern Low Country painters who have furthered the stylistic traditions of the Flemish Primitives later in the 16th Century. The paintings from the 15th and early-16th century artists from other locales, present in the Flemish collections, such as Madonna Surrounded by Seraphims and Cherubims by Jean Fouquet are also shown.

The new website on the Flemish Primitives take up the main rubrics already familiar from the Ensor website. In a biographical rubric, the lives of the most well-known representatives are explained in detail: Jan van Eyck, Rogier van der Weyden, Dieric Bouts, Joos van Wassenhove, Petrus Christus, Hans Memling, Hugo van der Goes, Gerard David, Jan Provoost and Quinten Massijs.

In the thematic collection presentations, the oeuvres of the Flemish Primitives are approached from no less than 18 different angles. In this way we gain insight into the world image of the late Middle Ages, the role of religion, the techniques used and how and why the works of art were utilised or ordered. Flemish Minister-President Kris Peeters, illustrator Klaas Verplancke and VKC-Chairman Paul Van Grembergen provide commentary on their favorite selections of Flemish Primitives.

Whoever wishes to go further in-depth can go directly to the website for specialised information on the research libraries, the manner in which the collections came into being, the CV’s of the curators researchers involved and a number of comprehensive and richly illustrated web publications with texts on the artists, works of art, restorations, and so forth. Whoever wants to expand his personal art-book collection or is in search of expert guides or hours of operation of the participating museums is also in luck.

With respect to the first version of the James Ensor online Museum, the website has been technically improved. The zoom-in feature of the works of art has already been mentioned. It is also easier to surf from detail page to detail page. And, changes in the data registration of the works of art will be visible within 24 hours on the website. Whoever wishes to order an image or reproduction will be guided directly to the appropriate page of Lukas, Art in Flanders. Twenty-six domain names from various country extensions have been reserved so that the website will be easily found in different language regions.

Joke Schauvliege, the Flemish Minister for Culture, is also pleased: ‘Gradually we are successful in making our rich history of art, illustrated and solid, available for an international public by way of the Internet. In this way, our cultural heritage institutions and art cities have at their disposal a virtual showcase for their established expertise and historical richness. The manner in which the Flemish Art Collection brings together all of the relevant actors for such a consistent informative website deserves respect and appreciation. I am already looking forward to the subsequent websites on George Minne and the Baroque in Flanders.’

Press Information:

The Flemish Art Collection vzw
Coordinator: Pascal Ennaert
Mail: pascal.ennaert@vlaamsekunstcollectie.be
Phone: 0032 (0) 486 58 85 45

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