Saturday, September 8, 2012

Bernard van Orley

Virgin and Child with Angels
ca. 1515
oil on wood
85.4 x 69.9 cm (33 5/8 x 27 1/2 in.)
The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, USA

Bernard van Orley (1491? - 1541) was a Flemish Northern Renaissance painter, and also a leading designer of Brussels tapestry and stained glass. He is counted among a group of painters belonging to the Romanism school of painting, who has not been given enough attention by the general public. His family came originally from Luxembourg, descendants from the Seigneurs d'Ourle or d'Orley. His branch of the family then moved to the Duchy of Brabant, where his father, painter Valentin van Orley was born as an illegitimate child and lost his noble lineage.

He was born at Brussels and completed his art education in Rome in the school of Raphael, although there is no evidence that he visited Italy. After returning to Brussels, he held an appointment as court painter to Margaret of Austria until 1527, in which year he lost this position and left the city. He only returned to it upon being reinstated by Mary of Hungary in 1532. While in his earlier work he continued the tradition of the Van Eycks and their followers, he inaugurated a new era in Flemish art by  introducing into his native country the Italian manner of the later Renaissance, the style of which he had acquired during his sojourn in Rome. His art marks the passing from the Gothic to the Renaissance period; he is the chief figure in the period of decline which preceded the advent of Peter Paul Rubens. Meticulously careful execution, brilliant coloring, and an almost Umbrian sense of design are the chief characteristics of his work. He has (very flatteringly) been called "the Raphael of the Netherlands". In 1520, when Durer visited the Netherlands, Orley gave a banquet for him, and Durer drew his portrait.