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Orley, Bernard (Bernaert, Barend) van (c.1488?-1541)

( Originally Published 1955 )

Flemish painter of religious subjects and portraits, decorator, and designer of tapestries and stained glass. His art resembles Italian Mannerism in many ways and is related to that of the so-called Antwerp Mannerists (1515-20). His style borrows from many sources: Gerard David and Provost, Antwerp and Haarlem, as well as Michelangelo and Raphael. Whether he was actually in Italy in 1514 and 1526 is debatable; he may have been influenced by Italian art through Raphael's cartoons for tapestries, which were woven in Brussels in the studio of Pieter van Aelst, and later through contact with Italian artists in the court. His style, a major break from the older Brussels tradition of Rogier van der Weyden, is characterized by an exuberant decorative fantasy, profusion of ornament, careful drawing, supple and elegant figures in animated movement, and efforts to render spatial extension through tricky foreshortening of figures and architectural structures; but it retains the indigenous Flemish predilection for saturated color. Born in Brussels of a family of Luxembourg painters, he studied with his father, Valentin. In 1518 he succeeded Jacopo de Barbari as court painter to Margaret of Austria and after her death to Mary of Hungary (1532). His most famous altars are the Trials of Job Triptych (1521, Brussels) and the Last Judgment Triptych (1525, Antwerp). He also painted many versions of the Madonna and Child and many court portraits. Of the latter the most notable still extant are the Young Charles V (Budapest), Margaret of Austria (Brussels), and Dr. Georges Zelle (Brussels). In his last years he designed a magnificent series of stained-glass windows for St. Gudule in Brussels and a great many cartoons for tapestries, the most famous of which is the Hunt of Maximilian series (Louvre).

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