Gaspar de Crayer

Gaspar de Crayer, ‘Plantin-Moretus/Prentenkabinet, Antwerpen’De Crayer is an Antwerp painter and draftsman and reportedly was a student of Raphael Coxie (ca. 1540-1616), the court painter of Archduke and Duchess Albert and Isabella. Although he was born in Antwerp, de Crayer moves his activities to Brussels and becomes the most important 17th-century painter of the city. He is in charge of a studio there and delivers work for the Archduke and Duchess Albert and Isabella, is court painter for Cardinal-infant Ferdinand and of Archduke Leopold Wilhelm. In addition, de Crayer also makes during his whole career a large number of altarpieces for churches, cloisters and abbeys. These paintings are highly influenced by the Counter Reformation. He also does work in a city like Ghent and spends the last five years of his life there. Commissions for orders for altarpieces from Germany and Spain are not uncommon.

The motifs that he borrows from the work of Rubens are so specific that people suspect that he has contact with his studio. Up until 1930, de Crayer follows in his Classicist path. From about 1631, the influence of Anthony van Dyck, with his emotionally charged interpretation of religious subjects, is clear.

Between 1638 and 1648 de Crayer's compositions display a lighter tonality and his figures become softer and more sentimental in appearance. Later there is also trace of Venetian influence, in particular the art of Titian (ca. 1488-1576) and Paolo Veronese (1528-1588) is noticed. De Crayer, however, never visited Italy. In the 1650's and 1660's, de Crayer's art becomes more emotionally loaded and more dramatic in scene. In the last period, quite a lot of studio work surfaces.

18 November 1584

Gaspar de Crayer is born in Antwerp.

1611-1616

De Crayer is dean of the painters' guild in Brussels in this period.

Circa 1617

Around this time, de Crayer produces the canvas The Mocking of Christ for the Saint Paul's Church in Antwerp. A modello of the work is present in the collection of the Museum of Fine Arts in Ghent.

1618

For the Saint Peter's Church in Ghent de Crayer paints Tobias and the Angel (MSK, Ghent).

Circa 1621-1622

The Judgment of Solomon hangs in the former college hall of the Oudburg in the Gravensteen in Ghent. (MSK, Ghent).

1626-1627

De Crayer is member of the Brussels city council.

Circa 1631-1637

De Crayer paints the Vision of Saint Simon Stock for the Ghent Carmelite Church.

1635

The artist becomes court painter for Cardinal-infant Ferdinand and later Archduke Leopold Wilhelm. For the Glorious Entrance of the former in Ghent, de Crayer is responsible for the decorative programme.

Circa 1644-1646

For the Jesuit Church of Ypres, de Crayer paints The Crowning of Saint Rosalia. (MSK, Ghent). After the dismantling of the Jesuit order in 1777, the altarpiece is purchased by the abbot of the Saint Peter's abbey in Ghent for the abbey's church.

1647

Jacob van Campen (1595-1657) contacts the artist in connection with the decoration works of the Paleis Huis ten Bosch in The Hague.

1649

De Crayer paints Archduke Leopold Wilhelm Offering to the Virgin and the Child the Floor Plan of the Church of the Discalced Carmelites in Ghent (MSK, Ghent).

Circa 1649-1669

For the Cistern sisters of the abbey of Nazareth (environs of Lier), the artist paints Lactatio of Saint Bernard of Clairvaux. (KMSKA, Antwerp).

De Crayer makes Saint John on Patmos for the city hall in Ghent (MSK, Ghent).

1658

For the Saint Bavo Cathedral, the artist paints the Saint John's Altar.

1664

De Crayer establishes himself in Ghent. Although de Crayer is no longer that young, orders for altarpieces continue to come in.

January 1669

Gaspar de Crayer dies in Ghent.

Matthias Depoorter