A prosperous economy brought wealthy costumers and artists from everywhere in Europe to Bruges, and created the circumstances that brought about the art of the Flemish Primitives. This cluster of capital, high talent and the availability of high-quality raw materials, which were necessary to produce the art, where at the core of the art that is still world famous today. But what happens when one of these factors is no longer present? In which ways does the absence of one of these factors have influence on the production of art?
From the end of the fifteenth century on, Bruges was no longer the blossoming capital which it once had been. This had an adverse effect on the Bruges art market. During the second half of the sixteenth century only very few masters and apprentices were registered with the guild of Saint Luke. Very few pieces of art were produced for the open market, as the artists mostly worked on assignment. Customers, capital and raw materials were no longer self-evident and artists had to be more inventive to survive.
The exhibition aspires to illuminate and contextualize a lesser known period of Bruges art history and works of art in Bruges collections. Special attention will go to inventiveness, subject matter and assignments. Until now art history concentrated mostly on high points and successes. This is a one-sided point of view, because artists are not only inventive in a period of boom. Recent research has shown that an economic recession requires flexibility and a need to change as well. After all, everybody wants to keep his head above water and to survive the crisis as well and quick as possible.