98%

Aesthetic Analysis

(Intrinsic Ranking)

50%

Cultural/Historical

(Exterior Ranking)

93%

Social/Collective

(User Ranking)

petrus christus

Artist: Petrus Christus

Born: 1410

Died: 1475-76

Nationality: Netherlandish/Belgian

Movements: Early Netherlandish Painting (Flemish Primitives),

Northern Renaissance, International Gothic

Most Prominent Works:

Portrait of a Carthusian (1446),

○ Portrait of a Young Girl (c. 1470),

○ Isabel of Portugal with St Elizabeth (c. 1460),

○ Virgin and Child with Saints Jerome and Francis (c. 1457),

○ A Goldsmith in His Shop, Possibly Saint Eligius (1449),

○ Nativity (1465),

○ Head of Christ (c. 1450),

○ Portrait of a Young Man (1460),

○ Lamentation (Pietà) (1444)

Mediums: Painting, Illuminator

( Image: Portrait of a Young Girl (c. 1470) )

brief summary

The Flemish artist Petrus Christus, a very close follower of Jan van Eyck art, left behind a body of work infamous for its great range – from illuminations and miniatures to larger painting showcasing incredible naturalism, through methodical technique and novel ways of applying linear perspective.

significance

A talented Dutch painter, after the death of Jan van Eyck, Petrus Christus (along with Hans Memling) became the most important painter in Bruges. Famous for his innovations with linear perspective and his meticulous technique, stemming from miniatures and manuscript illuminations, his paintings are renowned for a great naturalism. His works are generally characterized by an intimate and secluded atmosphere, with immobile characters, and rounded and synthetic volumes.  He is also remembered as the creator of the oldest painting in the Netherlands that has a single vanishing point: Virgin and Child with Saints Jerome and Francis (c. 1457).

Virgin and Child with Saints Jerome and Francis (c. 1457)

Very few documents remain of the existence and life of Petrus Christus, from which it is assumed that he was born around 1410 and died in Bruges between 1475 and 1476. However, it is generally accepted that he spent his whole life in Bruges.

Flanders, in the 15th century, was a very rich part of Europe, thanks to large ports, trade and textile craftsmanship, backed by relative political and administrative stability, albeit distressed by problems of religion between Catholics and Protestants. Having many business contacts with the rest of Europe, Flanders had formed a rich, cosmopolitan and culturally interested society, which expressed a growing artistic custom – Flemish art in the 15th century joins Italian art and, influencing itself reciprocally, it participates in the evolution of the artistic taste of the European peoples of the following centuries. Jan van Eyck had defined the Flemish tradition, not only regarding technique (oil paint), but also setting the themes for the Northern Renaissance (religious paintings and portraits).

Virgin and Child, with Saints and Donor (c. 1441-1443), by Jan van Eyck

His artistic career began in Bruges in the south of the Netherlands, on 6 July 1444, when he acquired citizenship in order to be recognized as an independent master painter. In the first part of his career, the characters in his paintings are the exact reflection of the art of the Bruges school, so much so that he is considered the closest follower of Jan van Eyck, for the stylistic adherence and the choice of themes. The painters who came from this school usually painted religious themes, although he also developed portraits and landscapes. The oil technique, unlike the fresco, favoured meticulousness, naturalism and his love for the landscape.  During his career as an artist he made a total of 30 paintings (officially attributed to him, at least) but only six were signed and dated.

Head of Christ (c. 1445)

A Goldsmith in his Shop (1449)

Being an artist belonging to Early Netherlandish painting, many of his works relied on the same themes, such as religious painting and portraiture, with a particular intricate focus on the landscape, even though it only appears on backgrounds, and not as a theme itself. Just like many of his fellow artists, Petrus Christus’ works show an emphasis on natural representation, with complex iconography, finding in oil paint a great level of virtuosity.

The Nativity (c. 1450)

Portrait of a Carthusian (c. 1446)

Known for his sensitive portraits, for the attention to the emotional state of the subjects, characteristic of the Flemish Primitive artists, he leaves his mark in the history of art for his strong interest in the definition of space, describing the new type of Gothic interior. He found new perspective solutions and researched formal simplification in the rendering of the figures. And, apparently, he was also responsible for introducing geometric perspective into Netherlandish painting. Overall, his work must have been well appreciated in his community, as on March 19, 1472 he served as the representative of the painters’ guild.

(Portrait of a Young Man (c. 1460)

Isabella of Portugal with Saint Elisabeth (1457-1460)

influences

Of his training it’s assumed that, like other painters of his time, he trained at the school of Jan van Eyck. Thought to be a student of van Eyck, Christus’ works are sometimes incorrectly perceived as his. It’s believed that he prepared and trained in van Eyck’s studio room and after his master’s death in 1441, Christus took over his workshop. Eyck undoubtedly had a very big influence on his life, without him, he would never have made such amazing paintings. His paintings show influences from German art, which can only be assumed that he worked with German artists or that he traveled to Germany around 1430. His works also show influences by Dieric Bouts, Robert Campin and Rogier van der Weyden. From van der Weyden, it seems that he found inspiration in the artists compositions, as shown in Lamentation (Pietà) (1444), Virgin and Child with Saints Jerome and Francis (c. 1457), and Portrait of a Young Woman (c. 1470).

The lamentation over the dead Christ (c. 1455-1464) by Rogier van der Weyden  |  The Lamentation (Pietà) (c. 1435-1450)

Portrait of a Lady (c. 1460), Rogier van der Weyden |  Portrait of a Young Woman (c. 1470)

Within 15 years, both his works and Petrus himself became important figures and had an essential effect on all Flemish art. While some think that he was influenced by the works of Antonello da Messina, others believe that it was the Italian painter who was inspired by him, precisely because of the use of perspective. His style of portraiture had also a great impact on the works of Master of Prado Adoration of the Magi, in The Presentation in the Temple (c. 1470-1480).

Saint Jerome in his Study (c. 1475), by Antonello da Messina

The Presentation in the Temple (c. 1470-1480) by Master of the Prado Adoration of the Magi

The Presentation in the Temple (c. 1470-1480) by Master of the Prado Adoration of the Magi |  Portrait of a Young Woman (c. 1470)

TECHNIQUE DETAILS

Your Content Goes Here

related videos

significant works

Artist: Petrus Christus
Title: Portrait of a Young Man
Date: c. 1460
Medium: Oil on panel
Size: 35.5 x 26.3 cm
Location: National Gallery, London, England

Artist: Petrus Christus
Title: Head of Christ
Date: c. 1445
Medium: Oil on parchment, laid down on wood
Size: 14.6 x 10.5 cm
Location: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, USA

Artist: Petrus Christus
Title: Portrait of a Carthusian
Date: c. 1446
Medium: Oil on panel
Size: 29 x 22.5 cm
Location: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, USA

Artist: Petrus Christus
Title: Portrait of a Young Woman
Date: c. 1470
Medium: Oil on oak panel
Size: 29 x 22.5 cm
Location: Gemäldegalerie, Berlin, Germany

Artist: Petrus Christus
Title: The Lamentation (Pietà)
Date: c. 1435-1450
Medium: Oil on oak wood
Size: 38 x 30 cm
Location: Louvre Museum, Paris, France

Artist: Petrus Christus
Title: The Nativity
Date: c. 1450
Medium: Oil on parchment, laid down on wood
Size: 127.6 x 94.9 cm
Location: National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C., USA

Artist: Petrus Christus
Title: Virgin and Child with Saints Jerome and Francis
Date: c. 1457
Medium: Oil on panel
Size: Unknown
Location: Städelsches Kunstinstitut und Städtische Galerie, Germany

Artist: Petrus Christus
Title: A Goldsmith in his Shop
Date: 1449
Medium: Oil on oak panel
Size: 100.1 x 85.8 cm
Location: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, USA

Artist: Petrus Christus
Title: Isabella of Portugal with Saint Elisabeth
Date: 1457-1460
Medium: Oil on oak panel
Size: 59 x 33 cm
Location: Groeningemuseum, Bruges, Belgium