Matheus de Layens

(c. 1400—1483)

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(b ?Henegouwen c. 1400; d Leuven, 5 Dec 1483). South Netherlandish architect. Almost all his career was spent in Leuven and elsewhere in Brabant. He played an important part in realizing the new city plan for Leuven that had been inaugurated at the beginning of the 15th century: it was centred on the new main market-place, demarcated by the rebuilt collegiate St Pieterskerk, the new town hall, which rivalled that of Brussels (begun 1401), and the Tafelrond guild house. He may have been trained by Sulpitius van Vorst on St Pieterskerk (c. 1425–39). In 1445 he succeeded Jan Keldermans II both as supervisor of the works at St Pieterskerk and as city architect to Leuven. He probably worked on the vaulting of the transept and nave of St Pieterskerk and also designed a west tower complex to replace the one damaged by fire in 1458: however, only the foundations were executed. The building's striking homogeneity indicates that he was faithful to his predecessors’ plans, although the frequently imitated tabernacle (1450) is his own. In 1448 he continued work on the new town hall, also begun by Sulpitius, but he had to alter his predecessor's design as the foundations would not support a belfry. The result (completed 1468–9) is an original, richly sculptured shrine-like building with four slim corner towers, which long stood as an exemplar in the Netherlands. Finally, he oversaw the construction of the Tafelrond (1480–87; altered 19th century; rest. 1916–27) by Maxime Winders (1882–1982) until his death. It comprised three houses, which served partly as rented housing and partly as an assembly hall for the citizens. As city architect, moreover, he directed numerous works, from the construction of the Groote Toren (1463–9; destr.; for illustration see Sketchbook of Leuven, MS., c. 1600; Brussels, Bib. Royale Albert 1er) and new locks (from 1465; destr.) to the restoration in 1459 of the Lakenhalle (Cloth Hall, begun 1317; partly destr. 1914; rest. 1922), subsequently taken over by the university, and renovation work on the town walls (1478–80; mostly destr.). His earliest known independent work was the outer Mechelen gate (1445; destr.). In Leuven the choir of St Quintenskerk (completed 1453) is attributed to him, as are the choir (destr.) and transept of St Jacobskerk (1467–84).


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

Subjects: Renaissance Art.

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