artist

Robert Campin

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Robert Campin was an early Northern Renaissance painter credited with pioneering the thin layers of oil paint that create the luminous images we associate with Renaissance painting as a whole. He was one of the first painters to abandon the traditional egg tempera materials, and although he was deeply influenced by Medieval illuminated manuscripts, he became more interested in naturalist figures. Although not much is known about his life, Campin received many commissions during his career, and made enough money to buy several houses in Northern Europe. Campin’s commissions placed portraits of his patrons in biblical scenes and the scenes in recognizable locations. The Mérode Altarpiece (1425–28), for example, includes the two patrons on the left panel, peeping into the biblical Annunciation scene that has been transported to a typical, upper-class Flemish home. This new practice of rendering religious figures realistically and placing them in relatable locations would become a defining distinction between Renaissance works and their Medieval predecessors, which eschewed naturalism to bring the viewer closer to God’s non-earthly realm.

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