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Work The Lamentation over Christ
Department of Paintings: Flemish painting
The Lamentation over Christ
© 2005 RMN / Gérard Blot
This composition was inspired by an Enea Vico engraving (1548) after Raphael. It can be dated to the late 1590s. It was sometimes thought to be a work by the young Rubens circa 1597 under the direct influence of his master Otto van Veen at Antwerp (Rubens became independent in 1598). It may, however, have been produced by van Veen himself or even painted in collaboration with Rubens; none of these possibilities can be excluded.
A painter in transition
Otto van Veen was one of the Northern painters who spent time in Italy. He was active at the turning point between the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. Born in Leiden, he subsequently resided in Antwerp and then settled for a time in Liège, before going to Italy in 1575. In Rome, he met Federico Zuccaro; Italian art was to have a lasting influence on his style. He returned to Flanders in 1583 and two years later was appointed painter to Alessandro Farnese in Brussels. After the death of his patron, he worked for a time in Antwerp where, from 1594 to 1600, Rubens was his pupil and collaborator - the latter was to be strongly influenced by his teaching. He finally returned to Brussels in 1612 and remained there until his death.
A lamentation between north and south
The lamentation seen here is an excellent illustration, not only of van Veen's art, but also of the transitional style current in the early seventeenth century, in which a variety of influences from both northern and southern Europe began to amalgamate. The composition portrays a monumental scene of strict proportions, somewhat reminiscent of the art of Raphael. Through the balance and scale of his images, the artist is attempting to shed any Mannerist tendencies in order to espouse the ideals of painters of all nationalities active at that time in Rome, who were known as Romanist painters. Muziano and Giuseppe Cesare (Cavaliere d'Arpino) are examples of Italian painters involved in this movement. All these artists were heavily influenced by the effects of the Council of Trent and thus by a desire to return to a more measured type of art. Figures started to be represented on a larger scale and scenes to become more accessible and understandable.
Fiamminghi a Roma
In the second half of the sixteenth century, the presence of the Fiamminghi, or Flemish painters, became very noticeable in Rome. In addition to the opportunities for studying, they were motivated by the hope of finding patrons in a city whose exciting artistic life was strongly underpinned by Papal politics. Contemporary Italian art had a decisive impact on these artists, and this was why such prestigious figures as Spranger, Goltzius, and Rubens himself were all drawn to Rome, pushed in that direction by van Veen. Some, like the Flemish sculptor Jean de Bologne (Giambologna), would remain in Italy, while others, like van Veen, would return to their own countries enriched by the Roman experience.
Otto van Veen (also known as Vaenius or Venius) or Peter Paul Rubens
The Lamentation over Christ
Church of Villeneuve-sur-Yonne
Oil on panel
H. 1.54 m; W. 1.95 m
Seized during the French Revolution
INV. 1997 bis
Flanders, late 16th century
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