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Vrancx, Sebastian

Amberes, 1573 - Amberes, 1647

He was a Flemish painter specialising in battle painting. According to Van Mander, he received his training with Adam van Noort, although his early works are akin to those of Cornelis Floris and Cornelis de Vos. Around 1600–1601, he was admitted to the painters’ Guild of Saint Luke of Antwerp, and in 1607, he became part of the chamber of rhetoric known as ‘de Violeren’. His early works have no relation with the style of painting that would later bring him success. They consist of small-scale biblical scenes of clear mannerist influence, often set in mountainous landscapes where the inclusion of ruins and the general atmosphere recall the works of Jan Brueghel or Paul Bril. Just as these artists did, Vrancx resided in Italy for several years. Upon his return to the Netherlands, he painted several genre scenes. These early works reveal a taste for anecdotal detail and conventional landscapes, which marked his later work, although details such as gesticulating figures or the rough trees are exclusive to this early period. In some cases, the battle scenes depict historical events, but on most occasions, they are nothing more than fictional scenes of military conflict. One of his most representative works is the Battle near Vught (1601, Koninklijk Museum voor Schone Kunsten, Antwerp). The artist’s early paintings reveal his stylistic development, where an artificial depiction of space and characters give rise to more real images in which the tonality and composition lend the work a more convincing realism. Vredeman de Vries’s use of architectural perspective to structure the interior spacing of the painting, the same style of composition that he employs in his landscapes, is of noteworthy interest. His last works demonstrate the attainment of a mature style, especially in the treatment of space and the inclusion of larger and more complexly distributed groups of figures. Nevertheless, the predominant role that the landscape plays in his final works, as well as the greater elegance in the arrangement of the riders and horses, show an approach to decorative painting that marks his pictorial decline. Sebastian Vrancx is, without a doubt, the driving force behind battle painting in Flanders. Special relevance should be attributed to the representation of cavalry battles, since he was one of the first painters to depict them. His work was decisive in the development of artists such as Peter Snayers and Adam Frans van der Meulen in Flanders. Furthermore, he significantly influenced the north of the Netherlands through Pieter van der Meulen, Jacques van der Wijhen or Esaias van de Velde. Likewise, he exerted great influence through his many collaborations with other artists, namely with Joost de Momper, Jan Brueghel the Younger, Tobias Verhaecht, Alexander Keirincx, Jan van Valen and Frans Francken II, some of whose joint works are now located in the Museo del Prado (Pérez Preciado, J. J., E.M.N.P., 2006, tomo VI, pp. 2211-2212).

Artworks (4)

Paisaje con lago
Oil on panel, XVII century
Vrancx, Sebastian
Surprise Attack on a Convoy
Oil on panel, 1620 - 1625
Brueghel el Joven, Jan; Vrancx, Sebastian
The Royal Palace in Brussels
Oil on canvas, Ca. 1627
Brueghel el Joven, Pieter; Vrancx, Sebastian
The Prodigal Son taking leave of his Home
Indian ink wash, Pencil, Pencil ground, Indian ink on yellow laid paper, XVI century
Vrancx, Sebastian

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