Antwerp Mannerist
Early Netherlandish (Active from 1510 in Antwerp)


SN 202, oil on panel, c1515

From "The Pages"


Like most paintings of this place and period, individual attribution is difficult. Antwerp was a port; her extensive trade and prosperity made it the ideal center for export of Flemish art. None are signed, few are dated. This painting is judged to be early Netherlandish, from around Antwerp, c 1515.

The flight into Egypt by the Holy Family can be seen in the middle distance. Usually these two subjects are reversed in importance, but both are included in late Medieval devotion as the “Seven sorrows of the Virgin.” This painting may have been part of a group dedicated to that tenet.

Typical of Antwerp Mannerists, the composition is crowded with action, costume, and spectacle. Facial types are repeated and stereotyped. There is great attention to detail. There are a lot of profiles and heads tilted askance. The slain children in this painting are awkward and rubbery.

The contorted poses, irrational space, and elaborate decoration are conceits of choice by the Antwerp Mannerist, but the carefully choreographed movement carries violent action through the scene.