van Coninxloo

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South Netherlandish family of artists. Members of at least six generations were artists, active from the late 15th century to the 17th. Jan van Coninxloo I (fl 1490), a polychromer who may have used the surname Schernier, worked in Brussels. His sons (1) Jan van Coninxloo II and Pieter van Coninxloo I (fl 1544) moved to Antwerp, where (2) Gillis van Coninxloo III and Hans van Coninxloo I (b before end of 1595), sons of Jan II, began their careers. Hans I moved to Emden in late middle age, acquiring citizenship there in 1571. Two of his sons, Hans van Coninxloo II (1565–c. 1620) and Isaak van Coninxloo (c. 1580–1634), moved to Amsterdam around the turn of the century, while Gillis III's son and pupil Gillis van Coninxloo IV (1581–1619/20) was born in Antwerp shortly before religious persecution prompted that branch of the family to flee the southern Netherlands. Two of Hans II's sons were his pupils: Hans van Coninxloo III (b c. 1589) and Pieter van Coninxloo II (1604–48), both of them painters in Amsterdam. Hans van Coninxloo IV (b 1623), son of Hans III, was, however, born in Emden. Other Flemish artists with the name van Coninxloo are known, although no family connections have been established. These include a Pieter van Coninxloo documented in Brussels in the 1470s and named in the accounts of Margaret of Austria in 1503 and 1513 in connection with portraits he had painted of members of the royal family; also Cornelis van Coninxloo I and Cornelis van Coninxloo II (see Coninxloo, van (ii)), Gillis van Coninxloo I (fl 1539–43) and his son Gillis van Coninxloo II (see family tree under Bruegel) and a Jan van Coninxloo active in Arras in 1599.(1) Jan van Coninxloo II (b Brussels, 1489; d ?Antwerp, after 1552). Painter. His work appears rather old-fashioned, retaining the influence of 16th-century polyptychs from Brabant, with their arrangements of figures in groups, isolated fragments of landscape and layering of planes to suggest depth. Unlike such contemporaries as Quinten Metsys and Bernard van Orley (see Orley, van, (2)), Jan II van Coninxloo was not influenced by Italian Renaissance conventions. Possibly his earliest work is a diptych with the inscription 1514 Jan van Coninxloo brussel, from a Brussels altarpiece showing the Youth and Passion of Christ (Sweden, Jäder priv. col.). Only five other works survive: two early commissions, the panels of the altarpiece of the Holy Family (Vorst, St Denijskerk) and the St Benedict panels (Brussels, Mus. A. Anc.), made for Margaretha I and Margaretha II van Liedekerke respectively; the St Anne triptych (1546); and a pair of signed and monogrammed side panels representing the Feeding of the Five Thousand and Christ in the Temple (both c. 1500; Brussels, Mus. A. Anc.). The figure types in the Vorst altarpiece resemble those in the St Anne triptych even in their expressions. The wings of the Holy Family altarpiece, moreover, show a child identical to one in the Feeding of the Five Thousand. These three pieces also use the same male figure. It seems quite likely that Jan II modelled these types on people he knew; two related male figures in three-quarter view—the pose in which artists often depict themselves—may be self-portraits. According to Vanaise, Jan II moved to Antwerp in 1552.(2) Gillis van Coninxloo III (b Antwerp, 24 Jan 1544; d Amsterdam, bur 4 Jan 1607). Painter, draughtsman and collector, son of (1) Jan van Coninxloo II. Van Mander, a contemporary of Gillis van Coninxloo III, wrote in 1604: ‘He is, as far as I know, the best landscape painter of his time; his style is now frequently imitated in Holland.’ Van Mander, moreover, based all his guidelines for landscape painters in his didactic poem Grondt der edel vry schilderconst (‘Principles of the noble and free art of painting’) on Gillis van Coninxloo's ideas, since Gillis's contributions to the development of Dutch and Flemish landscape painting were of decisive importance. More than any other artist, he represented the heroic landscape, an interpretation of nature based on reality but with a tendency to idealize the scenery, thus making the whole sublime. While his predecessors painted vast panoramic landscapes, Gillis III rendered self-contained glimpses of nature and created a sense of unity between man and nature as well as between the landscape and the viewer. A similar notion was being developed simultaneously in Italy by such artists of Netherlandish origin as Lodewijk Toeput and Paolo Fiammingo (c. 1540–96). Van Coninxloo, who never actually visited Italy, probably came to know this new style through prints by Cornelis Cort after Girolamo Muziano (1532–92), which were then circulating throughout the Netherlands. Other northern artists such as Jan Breughel the elder and Paul Bril achieved similar results at the same time or even before. Their contribution to the development of forest landscapes may therefore be considered to be at least as important as that of Gillis van Coninxloo, if not more so.


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

Subjects: Renaissance Art.

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