(b ?Haarlem, ?c.1420; d Louvain [Leuven], 6 May 1475). Netherlandish painter. Bouts evidently spent his early career in Haarlem, but all his documented works were produced in Louvain, where he is first recorded in 1457 and was city painter from 1468. His major commissions there were the Last Supper altarpiece for the church of St Peter (1464–7, still in situ) and two panels (out of a projected set of four, left incomplete at Bouts's death) on the Justice of Emperor Otto for the town hall (1470–5, Mus.
Royaux, Brussels). Apart from these, there are no documented works, but his style is highly distinctive—characterized most obviously by stiff, solemn, exaggeratedly slender and graceful figures—and a convincing oeuvre has been built up for him. Most of his pictures are of religious subjects, but there are also a few portraits, including Portrait of a Man (1462, NG, London). This is his earliest dated work and perhaps the first Netherlandish portrait to include a landscape viewed through a window—an arrangement that had become common by the end of the century. Bouts often includes exquisite landscape backgrounds in his religious works, the setting helping to create the mood of the picture: there is little action, but deep poetic feeling. Sources for his work have been sought in the mysterious Albert van Ouwater (who likewise seems to have had Haarlem connections), Rogier van der Weyden (in spite of the great difference in emotional temperature), and Petrus Christus, but the individuality of Bouts's work transcends any models. His style was continued by his two sons, Dieric the Younger (c.1448–90/1) and Aelbrecht (c.1455–1549), and was widely influential, in Germany as well as the Netherlands. Particularly popular were small devotional images of the Mater Dolorosa and Christ Crowned with Thorns (a pair of pictures showing these two subjects, catalogued as ‘Workshop of Bouts’, is in the National Gallery, London).
Text Source: The Oxford Dictionary of Art and Artists (Oxford University Press)