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Paris
Image of el award Travellers’ Choice given to the better attractions on Tripadvisor.

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Louvre’s Flemish and Dutch Paintings Tour 

The Louvre’s Flemish and Dutch painting tour is a Louvre private guided tour dedicated to the evolution of low countries paintings from 15th to 17h centuries. Discover the amazing Louvre Northern Schools collection with  our licensed guide lecturer. 

Night view of the old city of Bruges and canal to illustrate the Louvre Flemish and Dutch painting private tour, Paris, France.

Bruges the city of Flemish Primitives where all begun.

Louvre Flemish and dutch paintings private tour essentials  

  1. Guided tour in English
  2. Three tour options: Flemish only, Dutch only, Flemish & Dutch
  3. From 90 € for 1 to 2 people, 115 € for 3 etc.
  4. Really private tour
  5. A group of maximum 6 people exclusively yours (your party only)
  6. Morning, lunchtime, afternoon & evening tours
  7. M.Phil.-level local licensed guide lecturer

Why a Louvre Flemish and Dutch Painting Tour?

The Louvre owns one of the world’s biggest collection of Flemish and Dutch paintings out of Belgium and the Netherlands. This exceptional collection was initialy developed by the French kings from the very beginning of the Northern Schools. An opportunity to discover a more quiet Louvre far away from the crowd of the Italian galleries and the Mona Lisa

Don’t miss our louvre Flemish and Dutch Paintings private tour 
a great opportunity to discover this strategic period in arts!

Organization of the Tour

Guided Tour Structure

The full Louvre’s Flemish and Dutch painting tour is organized in a six parts chronological order except for the 17th century for which Flemish Baroque and Dutch painting are presented one after the other. 

Three Possible Versions of The Tour

As the tour field is vaste you have made the tour more flexible opening tree options.

  • The full Flemish  & Dutch painting Louvre tour: +/- 2.5 hours
  • The Flemish paintings Louvre tour (part 1 to 5 ): +/- 2 hours
  • The Dutch golden age painting Louvre tour (part 6): +/- 1.5 hours

As you can notice in the tours durations if you want to go deeper in the fields you should better follow  the Flemish paintings  Tour and the Dutch Golden Age Tour that the full Flemish & Dutch Painting Tour.

The Flemish Primitives – The Bruges’ Golden Age

“Flemish Primitives” refers to the artists who developed early Netherlandish paintings in the 15th century in the Burgundian State in a zone mainly corresponding to nowadays Benelux.

Flemish Primitive came from the French « Primitifs Flamands » an expression in which the word primitive not has to be understood as crude but as pioneer. The Flemish Primitives were as the Italian precursors of the Renaissance art revolution.

Being the economical capital of the Burgundian State till is fall in 1477, Bruges was the epicenter of this artistic period often called the Brudges Golden Age. Some of the main master pieces of the period are in the Louvre collection.

The « Rolin-Madonna », a Louvre must see by Jan van Eyck one of the most important painters in history of art, particularly famous for his role in the development of oil painting and portrait.

The “Annunciation” by Rogier van de Weyden, official painter of the city of Brussels, a man who became the most prestigious painter of the Burgundian State after the death of van Eyk in 1441 and so painted portraits of the duke of Burgundy Charles the Bold (Charles le Téméraire).

The « Hip of Fools »  by Hieronymus Bosch is an other Louvre Flemish painting must see. The Bois-le-Duc Painter is a mayor artist with a very specific style made of fantastic illustrations with macabre, nightmarish and mocking depictions.

Despite being German Hans Memling was one of the main representant of the Bruges’ Golden Age. In between Memling’s Louvre master pieces are for example the « Angel with an Olive Branch, Emblem of Divine Peace » or « The Triptych of the Resurrection » in which can be seen the influence of the Italian painting.

An Italian influence which is also visiblen in “The triptych of the family Sedano” by Gerard David another main painter of the Bruges School. Gerard David death (1523) is considered by many art historians as the end Flemish primitive period even if some other let it go to the death of Pieter Bruegel the Elder in 1568 or even later.

After 1500 with the silting up of its port, Bruges started to lose is economic prosperity and meanwhile its artistic leadership and was rapidly replaced in both aspects by Antwerp as Habsburg low countries flagship.

Photo of a map of the Burgundian State during the reign of Charles the Bold to illustrate the Louvre Flemish and Dutch painting guided tour.

Flemish primitives developped there art in the Burgunian State under the reign of the duke Philip the Good in the 15th century. The duke’s Chancelor Nicolas Rolins is the sponsor and the one represented on the “Rolin-Madonna” painting by Jan van Eyck and is also the sponsor of the “Beaune Altarpiece” by Rogier van de Weyden. After the death of the duke Charles the Bold in 1477 the Burgundian State was dismanteled. Burgundian duchy went to the king of France meanwhile the lows countries went the Hasbourg house. Credit wikipedia, Marco Zanoli.

Flemish Renaissance – humanism and reformation

Our tour will continue with three main painters of the Flemish Renaissance representative of the Antwerp School:

  • Quentin Metsys
  • Joachim Patinier Pieter
  • Brueghel the Elder

The “Money Changer and his Wife” by Quentin Metsys is one of the most interesting Northern School paintings of the Louvre. The scene is a typical Flemish genre painting, but furthermore the painting is full of symbolism and is clearly an allegory and a memento mori.  Moreover, the little convex mirror in the middle of  the work is a clear reference to the famous « Arnolfini Portrait » by van Eyck.

 

The end of the 15th century saw an important evolution in arts: the beginning of landscape painting, with a clearly identified main pioneer: Joachim Patinier.

The Louvre « Saint Jerome in the Desert » by Patinier is an ideal tool to understand the characteristic of the first Flemish Landscapes.

In the same Louvre room is an autoportrait of a man who wrote about the quality of landscape paintings of his friend Patiner: Albrech Durer the most famous German Painter of the Renaissance.

The Louvre only owns one Pieter Brueghel the Elder painting called « The Beggards » this very little work (18,5 × 21,5 cm) which is then very easy to miss is nevertheless very interesting for its possible interpretations and the obvious influence of Hieronymus Bosch in terms of grotesque as in pictorial realism.

Romanism

As it can be guessed Romanism is all about the influence of Italian art on Flander one. More precisely about late Italian Renaissance (called mannerism) on the Antwerpen Artists. The Guild of Romanists was established by Marten de Vos in 1572, having traveled to Rome was a condition to accede membership of the fraternity. Between others three Louvre’s works are significative of the mouvement
.

  • Marten de Vos : “Saint Paul Bitten by a Viper on the Island of Malta” (1566).
  • Frans Floris : “Allegory of the Trinity” (1562).
  • Jan Massys (soon of Quentin Massys or Metsys): “David  and Bathsheba” (1562).

But the works of these three artists are not the only ones related to the Romanism in the louvre collection as the guild was also including some other very famous artist as Jan Brueghel the Elder and most of all Peter Paul Rubens who became prominent actors of next artistic movement: the Flemish Baroque.

1585 The turning point: Flemish Baroque versus Dutch Golden Age

Sixteenth century Reformation did not have only impact in ideas it also generated huge political consequences. In Northern Europe the Eighty Years’ war dismantled in two parts the low countries: Spanish ruled catholic in the south, independent Protestant United Provinces in the north.

1585 is a strategic date in the Eighty Years’ War as for Northern schools. The 17th of August of that year, Antwerp which was the head of the Protestant revolt surrender to Habsburg Spanish forces. All Protestants had four years to leave the city, lots of them migrate in the north, more specifically in Amsterdam which became the capital of the Dutch Republic (United Provinces).

So 1585 is the milestone for the end of the Antwerp economic prominence in Northern Europe in favor of Amsterdam and then the early beginning of Dutch Golden Age.

Nevertheless 1585 is far to be the end of arts in Antwerp but on the contrary may be considered as the beginning Flemish Baroque there.

Flemish Baroque Painting: The Age of Rubens

Jan Brueghel the Elder, the most famous soon of Pieter Brueghel the Elder is considered as the creator or at least the most talented artist of flower still lifes. Jan Brueghel and Peter Paul Rubens were good friends and following the Flemish tradition were cooperating in some works as in the Louvre “Madonna in Floral Wreath“, a touching master piece in which the central medallion is by Rubens and the Flower by Brueghel.

As the Louvre owns a large number of Rubens, we will obviously cross others on our tour route and may see depending of our tour rythm for example the famous Marie de‘ Medici Cycle (24 paintings created by the Flemish baroque master for the Luxembourg Palace in Paris south bank) or a much more intimate portrait of Rubens second wife Helena Fourment.

Rubens is not only famous for himself but also for his pupils as for example Anthony van Dyck who was also Rubens’ assistant before becoming the leading court painter in England. This Flemish Baroque artist may clearly be considered as the founder of the English School. On our tour route is planned a famous van Dick English period full-length portrait «Charles I at the Hunt».

Photo of the Marie de Medicis Rubens gallery to illustrate the Flemish and Dutch painting Louvre tour.

Louvre visitor watching painting of Marie de‘ Medici Cycle by Piter Paul Rubens. The 24 paintings of the cycle were initialy in the Luxembourg Palace in Paris left bank. Credit Pixabay

Dutch Golden Age

The united provinces rapidly became the first economic power in the 17th century, a period of extremely rich art creation. An art which inherited the detail and realism of the early Netherlandish painters avoiding the baroque idealization and obviously any Catholic Reformation influence.

The great diversity of the 17th century Dutch painting is another of its main characteristic.

Maritime paintings are great witnesses of the 17th century Dutch Empire as « The Return of the Fleet of the Dutch East India Company » from Ludolf Backhuysen. Foreign lands painting as the Brazilian landscapes by Frans Post does not only witness the Dutch Empire but also of its industry with sugar refinery depiction. This Frans Post works are some of the very first representation of South America.

Proud depiction of industrial innovations is also sometimes shown in Dutch countryside landscapes as in « The Watermill » which is despite its rustic appearance depicting an innovative water-powered sawmill, The painting is by Meindert Hobbema one of the most famous landscape painters of the time beside for sure Van Ruisdael.

The wealth of the Dutch Republic can also depicted in cityscapes painting as in the « Herengracht in Amsterdam» by Jan van der Heyden where we can see the impressive houses (veritable urban palaces) along the canal.

Dutch painting is also famous for its still life paintings with for example there flower paintings having strong differences as similitudes with the Flemish one.

Portrait is another important field of 17th century Dutch painting, Frans Hals being indisputably its most brilliant master with his strong brushstrokes which were admired by many 19th century innovative painters as Courbet, Monet or Van Gogh ; « The Lute Player» is probably is most famous Louvre painting.

The Louvre also owns some master pieces from the two most famous Dutch Golden Age painters :
Rembrandt: among many other works of the Dutch chiaroscuro master two of his world’s most famous master pieces are part of the Louvre collection « Bathsheba at Her Bath » and « The Supper at Emmaus».

Johannes Veermer: no more than 35 works have been attributed to the mysterious Delft painter, two are in the Louvre : « the Astronomer » and «the Lacemaker». “

This unforgettable master pieces are planned on our tour route.

Photo of the painting "Toilet of Bathsheba" by Rembrand to illustrate the Flemish and Dutch Louvre tour.

“Bathsheba at Her Bath” is a reccuring theme of the tour. We will then be able to see the evolution of the theme from Jan Metsys to Rembrandt and then to the version of Willem Drost (a Rembrand pupil) also presented at the Louvre. Last we will also see how Rembrandt himself changed his approche of the theme from its MET version (1643) to the Louvre one (1654). Credit photo MET New York Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Things to know before Booking

Your Private Licensed Guide in Paris

  • State-graduate licensed guide lecturer
  • Bachelor with honors in Heritage Developpement & Preservation by Conservatoire des Arts et Métiers
  • Postgraduate from Paris-Dauphine University
  • Member of Paris Historique Association

Louvre Flemish & Dutch Painting Highlights

  • Really private tour for you and your party only.
  • Three tour versions: Flemish & Dutch painting, Flemish painting, Dutch painting.
  • A comprehensive introduction to Northern Schools painting
  • The opportunity to ask your dedicated guide any related questions.

Meeting Point

Inside the museum 

Access: Line 1 station Palais Royal

 

Louvre Flemish & Dutch Painting Private Tour Attention Points

  • Tour is on foot.
  • Prices do not include transportation, food, drinks or any other extra services.
  • Museum tickets: are not included in the price – meeting point is inside the Museum 
  • Tour duration & content are purely indicative, they may vary due to contingencies.

BoOk your Louvre Private Tour

Choose below your tour: You will then be  asked : -> choose the number of people, date & hours of visit -> after our validation-> pay on line.

Choose below your tour

You will then be  asked : 

  • choose number of people, date & hour of visit
  • after our validation
  • pay on line
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