Book Series Catalogue of Early Netherlandish Painting: Royal Museums of Fine Arts of Belgium, vol. 5

The Flemish Primitives V

Anonymous Masters

Anne Dubois, Roel Slachmuylders, Géraldine Patigny, Famke Peters

  • Pages: 302 p.
  • Size:210 x 297 mm
  • Illustrations:210 b/w, 160 col.
  • Language(s):English
  • Publication Year:2009

  • ISBN: 978-2-503-53058-1
  • Hardback
  • Available


"L'ensemble constitue une contribution très solide à l'histoire de la peinture de la fin du Moyen Âge dans les anciens Pays-Bas." (C. Heck, dans: Revue de l'art, n° 169/2010-3, p. 75-83)


The fifth volume examines all the works painted by anonymous masters. Most works of the 15th and early 16th centuries are not signed. Several of these works have not proved possible to attribute to a known painter or to a master with a provisional name. These works, labelled as anonymous, have been little studied until now, because they are in general thought to be of lesser quality, and because researchers have prioritised the study of more important masters. It is, however, becoming increasingly apparent that these reflect the ongoing production of the time in the Southern Netherlands. Beside the fact that these paintings represent the themes that enjoyed a certain popularity at the time, their study opens perspectives onto the socio-economic context and workshop practice. These paintings could be destined for a broad market and betray different working methods allowing for swift execution in several copies. Furthermore, two of these anonymous works, dating from around 1400 or a little bit later, rank amongst the rare representatives of pictorial production in the Southern Netherlands prior to the technical innovations introduced by the Flemish Primitives. This production is by convention called “pre-Eyckian painting”.