Bouts, Dirck

born с 1415, Haarlem, Holland
died May 6, 1475, Louvain, Brabant

Netherlandish painter.

He was active in Louvain, where he was influenced by Rogier van der Weyden. His best-known works are a triptych altarpiece (1464) for the church of St. Peter in Louvain, its panels representing the Last Supper and four Old Testament scenes, and two huge panels representing a scene of secular justice (1470–75) for the city hall, intended as examples of justice for the Louvain town council. His treatment of the human figure ranges from strong emotion expressed through symbolic gesture to great severity and restraint.

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▪ Dutch painter
Dirck also spelled  Dierick, Dirk, Dieric, or Thierry  
born c. 1415, , Haarlem, Holland [now in The Netherlands]
died May 6, 1475, Louvain, Brabant [now in Belgium]

      painter of the northern Netherlands who, while lacking the grace of expression and intellectual depth of his great Flemish contemporaries Rogier van der Weyden (Weyden, Rogier van der) and Jan van Eyck (Eyck, Jan van), was an accomplished master.

      Little is known of Bouts's early years in Haarlem, although it is possible that he studied in Brussels with van der Weyden, whose influence is obvious in his early works. In 1448 he visited Louvain in the southern Netherlands, where he married the daughter of a local merchant. After 1457 his name appeared almost every year in the archives of Louvain. Bouts's earlier works, dated on stylistic evidence before 1457, are strongly Rogierian in their expression of strong emotion through symbolic gestures. Passionate subjects such as “The Entombment,” “Pietà,” and scenes of the Crucifixion, descent from the Cross, and the Resurrection depicted in an impressive triptych in the Royal Chapel in Granada, Spain, were appropriate vehicles for this expression. They lack Rogier's anatomical correctness, however, and Bouts's compositions appear stiff and angular; these differences are perhaps due as much to the sober religious intensity of the northern Netherlands in comparison with the more relaxed spirit of Flanders as to a deficiency in skill or feeling. The overall design of Bouts's early works shows the influence of the elegant and intellectual van Eyck.

      In the paintings ascribed to Bouts's mature period after he settled in Louvain, van der Weyden's influence gives way to a greater severity and dignity in the treatment of figures; there is a shift toward grander, more allegorical subjects as well. The facial expressions of the figures in these paintings show an extraordinary restraint that appears as a deliberately controlled intensity with great spiritual effect. Bouts's two best-known works, which exemplify all of these characteristics of his mature style, belong to the last 20 years of his life. One, ordered by the Confraternity of the Holy Sacrament for the Church of St. Peter in Louvain in 1464, is a triptych, the wings of which are divided into two smaller panels, one above the other. The central panel represents the Last Supper, and on the wings are shown four scenes from the Old Testament foreshadowing the institution of the Eucharist: the “Feast of the Passover,” “Elijah in the Desert,” the “Gathering of Manna,” and “Abraham and Melchisedek.” The second painting, commissioned by the city of Louvain in 1468, the year in which Bouts became official painter to the city, was to be an ambitious project on the theme of the Last Judgment, but the work remained uncompleted at Bouts's death. Panels representing heaven and hell survive, as well as two thematically related panels illustrating an episode from the legend of the Holy Roman emperor Otto III.

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Universalium. 2010.

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