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Building the Tower of Babel
Photo credit: Brighton & Hove Museums

Building the Tower of Babel

Joachim Patinir (c.1480–before 1524) (attributed to)

Brighton & Hove Museums

(b ?Dinant or Bouvignes, c.1480; d Antwerp, 1524). Netherlandish painter, a pioneer of landscape as an independent genre. Although his paintings nominally represent religious subjects, the figures are often dwarfed by the natural world and he has been described as the first landscape specialist in European art, or, in Kenneth Clark's words, ‘the first painter to make his landscapes more important than his figures’. Nothing is known of his early life, but he probably came from Dinant or its neighbourhood, in the craggy gorge of the River Meuse; his native scenery—so different from the flat countryside of most of the Netherlands—no doubt helped inspire the rocky backgrounds that feature in his paintings. In 1515 he was enrolled in the painters' guild in Antwerp, and when Dürer visited the city in 1521 he became friendly with Patinir and described him as a ‘good landscape painter’ (perhaps the first occurrence of this term).

Text source: The Oxford Dictionary of Art and Artists (Oxford University Press)


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