Master of Evert van Soudenbalch

(c. 1460—1470)

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Willem Vrelant (fl. 1449—1481)


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(fl Utrecht, c. 1460–70). Illuminator, active in the northern Netherlands. This name was given to the major illuminator of a two-volume Bible (Vienna, Österreich. Nbib., Cod. 2771–2), made for Evert van Soudenbalch, a canon of Utrecht Cathedral from 1445 to 1503, who is shown being presented to the Virgin on fol. 10r of the first volume. The text, in Middle Dutch, is a compilation of texts from the Bible and historical works including the Alexander romance and extracts from Flavius Josephus, with commentaries from Petrus Comestor's Historia scolastica. As a consequence of those contents, the 244 miniatures and 33 historiated initials are iconographically most unusual. The Master of Evert van Soudenbalch devised the scenes with a psychological insight comparable with Rembrandt's treatment of biblical history two centuries later and was perhaps the first artist to give convincing expression to such feelings as jealousy, consternation, self-doubt and resignation (Delaissé, 1968). His achievements in technique are equally notable: the use of small brushstrokes of colour achieves a variety of surface effects, so that objects appear strongly modified by light and shade. This enabled him to differentiate facial expressions, to achieve an astonishing three-dimensionality of modelling and to give a lively appearance to drapery surfaces. The contrasting of complementary shades that characterizes his use of colour is nonetheless combined with a sensitivity to middle tones. Thus steel blue is set against ochre and dark blue-green against violet. Flesh tones are highlighted orange and shaded olive green. Figures are mobile and show his command of unusual viewpoints: they are often seen from behind or from below to heighten the dramatic quality of his compositions. The most astonishing demonstration of the individuality of characterization and the vivid quality of the Master's work is in a manuscript on paper, a Middle Dutch work of natural history (Wolfenbüttel, Herzog August Bib., Cod. Guelf. 18.2. Aug. 4°).


From The Grove Encyclopedia of Northern Renaissance Art in Oxford Reference.

Subjects: Renaissance Art.

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