During the fifteenth century, Bruges was an affluent centre of culture and sophistication. Residence to the dukes of Burgundy, a major trading hub, home to the Order of the Golden Fleece and the focus of Italian banking in the North, the town was plump with prosperous patrons looking to indulge their artistic impulses (and to show such fancies off). Attracted by this – as well as the city’s cosmopolitan charm – artists from across the area collected here.
Coincident with the start of the Renaissance further south, this migration spawned an independent creative movement characterised by realism, empirical perceptions and the physical illustration of man as opposed to one inspired by older art and concentrating on ideal beauty and perfection. Early Netherlandish, late Gothic, Ars nova…it took society three hundred years to settle on an apt title for these men: Flemish Primitives.
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