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Petrus Christus - Maryan Wynn Ainsworth

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Petrus Christus

Renaissance Master of Bruges

Maryan Wynn Ainsworth

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This study is an important new account of the life and work of the Flemish master Petrus Christus. It is the first volume to focus specifically on the physical characteristics of his works as criteria for judging attribution, dating, and the extent to which he was indebted to Jan van Eyck and other artists for the development of his technique and style. The author's aim is to examine how certain works were made in order to solve some rather traditional questions of connoisseurship. Recent technical and archival investigations, the results of which are published here together for the first time, form the basis of a sophisticated reassessment of Christus. His relationship with van Eyck's workshop is explored. There is a careful description of his working methods, including his use of underdrawings and his exploration of perspective. The results of dendrochronological analyses of many of his panels are also given. As important as this technical and art-historical evaluation is the social and biographical background that is provided. Christus is placed in the context of fifteenth-century Bruges, a wealthy and powerful city under the rule of the dukes of Burgundy. its status as a ducal seat fostered a lively cultural life, and patrons for artistic undertakings were also found in the relatively large number of well-to-do citizens and foreign merchants who lived there. The economic, social, and political forces that affected Bruges are described, as is their impact on the city's community of artists, which included Jan van Eyck and Hans Memling.

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