L'oeuvre d'Albrecht Bouts: catalogue critique et pratiques d'atelier/The work of Albrecht Bouts: critical catalogue and workshop practicals
The subject of the thesis is to establish a critical catalogue of Albrecht Bouts’ (1451-55/1549) work. Son of Dirk Bouts (1410-1420/1475), official painter to the city of Leuven, Albrecht and his elder brother, Dirk the Younger (1448-1491), inherited their father’s workshop after his death. The work of the elder son, Dirk the Younger, is still a discussed topic since no painting could be attributed to him with certainty. It is quite different for Albrecht who is the likely author of the Tryptich of the Assumption of the Virgin from the Musées royaux des Beaux-Arts of Belgium. The corpus of his work, established in 1925 by Max J. Friedländer and in 1938 by Wolfgang Schöne based on this autograph altarpiece, includes an important number of paintings. This catalogue has however never been revised by art historians since then. Only some paintings have occasionally been published.
Considering the high number of paintings attributed to the master, there was a need to undertake a deeper study in order to distinguish Albrecht Bouts’ own creations from those of his workshop.
The thesis is divided into five chapters. The first one includes a complete, selective and chronological biography of the master, based on the data found in the archives of the city of Leuven. A newly enriched critical interpretation of these documents has allowed a better definition of Albrecht Bouts’s personality and a clearer understanding of the development of his career.
The second chapter is devoted to the study of the master’s work and starts with an in-depth examination of the Tryptich of the Assumption of the Virgin, the only painting recognized as an autograph work. The combined examination of the style and the technical execution of this altarpiece, painted during the mature period of his career, underlines both the influences of Dirk Bouts and Hugo van der Goes and helps to display his original artistic personality.
From there, the catalogue of his work is re-established, in the last chapter, from the very beginning to the end of his working life. In the last chapter devoted to the catalogue, each painting attributed to the master is carefully studied, on a chronological basis and in details, with an introductive technical note giving material as well as bibliographical information.
The review of the corpus of Albrecht Bouts’ work is based on a traditional stylistic approach and on the results given by laboratory documents. An important photographical and technological documentation of his works – some of them unpublished until now- has been gathered. Their comparison brought forward essential arguments on which our demonstration is based.
The third chapter, which builds on the two first ones, consists of an analysis of Albrecht Bouts’ workshop production, which was particularly active at the beginning of the XVIth century. The purpose was not to study thoroughly each painting but to extract coherent groups of works thanks to the same combined examination of style and technique. Like the master’s autograph work, each painting is subject to a careful study in the critical catalogue.
Finally, the fourth chapter is dedicated to the serial production of private devotional works carried out in the master’s workshop. There were already many general writings and some occasional studies on the subject, but none of them really measured the importance of the mass production. We therefore undertook a deep and thorough research on the workshop practices , on the iconography and on the social-economical context of the realisation of works by Albrecht following the prototypes created by his father.
The thesis contributes to a better knowledge and understanding of the life, the personality and the work of Albrecht Bouts and re-evaluates the participation of his workshop. This will give to each of these elements its proper place in the Flemish Masters Painting of the end of the XVth and the beginning of the XVIth centuries.
Advisor:Mund Hélène; Joubert Fabienne; Leclercq-Marx Jacqueline; Périer-D'Ieteren Catheline; Martens Didier; Couvreur Manuel
School:Université libre de Bruxelles
Source Type:Master's Thesis
Keywords: Assumption of the Virgin
Date of Publication:02/21/2009