The 15th and 16th Centuries
The Museo del Prado does not possess a work by Jan van Eyck, the greatest master of the Flemish School, but it does have an exceptionally interesting painting entitled The Fountain of Grace and the Triumph of the Church over the Synagogue executed in the master’s workshop by a close pupil.
Two works by Robert Campin, who initiated the 15th-century Flemish style, should be mentioned: Saint John the Baptist and the Franciscan Master Heinrich von Werl and Saint Barbara. His pupil, Rogier van der Weyden, is represented in the Prado by two of his most important masterpieces, The Descent from the Cross and The Virgin and Child. Magnificent works by other leading 15th-century Flemish painters in the Museum include the Triptych on the Life of Christ by Dirk Bouts and the The Adoration of the Magi Triptych by Hans Memling, as well as the panel of The Rest on the Flight into Egypt by Gerard David.
The Flemish Primitive School culminates in the Prado’s collection with the superb collection of panel paintings by Hieronymous Bosch, the largest in any single public collection and, most importantly, the collection that includes the greatest number of major works by this painter from s’Hertogenbosch. These include the three triptychs of The Garden of Earthly Delights, The Adoration of the Magi and The Hay Wagon, and Table of the Mortal Sins.
Among 16th-century Flemish painting a notable place is occupied by the four panels by Joachim Patinir, Rest on the Flight from Egypt, Landscape with Saint Jerome, Crossing the River Styx, and The Temptations of Saint Anthony the Abbot, painted in collaboration with Quintin Massys. As in the case of Bosch, this group is the largest and most important one by the artist to be found in any museum.
Among the 16th-century Flemish paintings in the Museo del Prado are various masterpieces by major artists. These include Quintin Massys’ Ecce Homo, Barend van Orley’s The Holy Family, Christ between the Virgin and Saint John the Baptist by Gossaert and The Triumph of Death by Pieter Bruegel the Elder. Among genre paintings, notable works are those by Marinus Reymerswaele and Jan Sanders van Hemessen.
Portraits of this period in the Prado include the magnificent series by Anthonis Mor, most notably the Portrait of Mary Tudor, Queen of England, second wife of Felipe II and 'Pejerón', The Jester of the Count of Benavente and the Grand Duke of Alba. They can be considered high points of this genre in the 16th-century and in particular within court portraiture, along with those by Titian.