This spring, in the framework of the jubilee year of Pieter Bruegel the Elder, the Centre for Fine Arts in Brussels (BOZAR) celebrates the artists of the XVI century with the double exposition under the general title “The Age of Bruegel. 450 Year.” Both of them are dedicated to the art of the Renaissance in the historical Netherlands. One of them is “Prints in the Age of Bruegel,” the second represents a historical retrospective of Bernard van Orley.
Bernard van Orley (1488-1541) was one of Bruegel’s predecessors and key figures on the Brussels art scene during the Renaissance. At a young age, he headed one of the outstanding workshops of his time. Artist’s innovative style impressed his contemporaries, including the courts of Margaret of Austria, Mary of Hungary and Emperor Charles. Van Orley received prestigious orders for luxury tapestries, paintings, and stained glass.
BOZAR for the first time in history has collected about a hundred artworks of the artist, borrowed from the most extensive collections in the world. It is a unique opportunity for art lovers to explore the historical retrospective of Bernard van Orley in his native city.
A unique talent of the artist consisted in the ability to combine different artistic movements in one new visual language. He followed the traditions of the Flemish Primitives but added new elements. Van Orley was greatly influenced by Albrecht Dürer, a famous German painter and graphic artist, and the principles of the Italian Renaissance. The artist was familiar with them because of the cartoons for tapestries authored by Raphael and Leonardo da Vinci. These masterpieces were known in Brussels since in the XVI century this city was the capital of carpet weaving in Europe.
The talent for innovation made Bernard van Orley one of the key historical figures in the world of art, which formed the Northern Renaissance. However, despite the strong reputation and presence of his artworks in significant collections, there was no monographic exposition of his works. The Royal Museums of Fine Arts of Belgium, the Art & History Museum and BOZAR have united to implement this project.
The exhibition sheds light on a wide range of themes and techniques through which the artist has made a name for himself. In addition to vivid paintings, the historical retrospective of Bernard van Orley presents a broad overview of his tapestries, drawings, and stained glass artworks. The exhibits reveal various hypostases of the artist – from the head of the workshop, who solved everyday issues, to the court painter.
For the occasion of the exhibition, the fragments that were once a single artwork have been put together for the first time. For example, the St John Altarpiece from the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City is installed next to its second half, which belongs to a private collector. Finally, the exposition presents many works on paper by masters who influenced Bernard van Orley – Andrea Mantegna, Albrecht Dürer and Raphael.
A historical retrospective of Bernard van Orley titled “Bernard van Orley. Brussels and the Renaissance” held at the BOZAR Centre for Fine Arts in Brussels is open until 5.26.2019.