Bernard Van Orley

1487 (Bruxelles) / 1541 (Bruxelles)
Living in : Bruxelles
Working in : Bruxelles

To scholastic thought which sees only through God, Bernard Van Orley preferred this humanism of reason in the process of being conquered. In between too, his work is very strongly anchored in the local tradition and his Virgins would not spoil the corpus of a Rogier van der Weyden, although the landscape, by a few silent variations, reminds us that in all the Europe resounds only with the melody of the muses coming down from Parnassus. No doubt they all still rest in the walled garden carpeted with a thousand flowers, but their distant blue, misting with the sfumato acclimated to the panoramic visions of Patinir. Van Orley also knows how to harmonize opposites, as in this Haneton Triptych where, against the Byzantine background punctuated with supernatural hatching, the poignant humanity of a Lamentation stands out. There, beings of character, deeply afflicted: a slightly ovine Saint John, with woolly hair, a Joseph of Arimathea with the profile of a medallion, Mama Roma, already, in the role of the mother of pain, pearly cheeks, the enveloping gesture, a Madeleine, finally, the curls retained by a fishnet stolen from the courtesans of the Lagoon, the billhook profile, worthy of a Sibyl by Michelangelo, a Fornarina veil protruding from the bodice. Everything resides in van Orley in this skilful mixture, retaining from each of his major contemporaries certain innovations that he enshrines in his own language.

Excerpt from the article by Vincent Quéau

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