COECKE VAN AELST, Pieter

(1502-1550)
The Flemish artist Pieter Coecke van Aelst was not only a painter but also a sculptor, a designer of tapestries and stained glass, and a translator of the works of the Roman architect Vitruvius and the Italian architectural theorist Sebastiano Serlio. With these translations, he introduced his countrymen to Italian Renais­sance architecture and its classical origins. His painting was strongly influenced by Italian Mannerism, with a tendency to exaggerated form and movement.
In 1527 Coecke joined the Antwerp painters' guild and set up his own work­shop, which was a busy one, producing a great number of stereotypical religious paintings on subjects such as the Madonna and the Adoration of the Magi. But his most popular painting was his very Mannerist Last Supper, in which the figures of the disciples, in an elaborate setting and grouped in pairs, converse with violent movements: even the furniture seems to be moving. Coecke's work­shop made no fewer than forty-one copies of this Last Supper, continuing to produce them until well after Coecke's own death.
The Dutch biographer Karel van Mander wrote that Coecke learned the art of tapestry design, a major component of his career, from Bernaert van Orley, whose pupil he was. Although many drawings for tapestries survive, few actual tapestries can be assigned to Coecke today. Probably in connection with tapestry commissions, he visited both Rome and Constantinople; drawings done on the journey to Constantinople were issued as woodcuts after his death.
Coecke was the father-in-law of the great Flemish painter Pieter Bruegel the Elder*; what is less certain is whether Coecke was also Bruegel's teacher, as van Mander claims, for Bruegel's style shows no resemblance to that of Coecke. Coecke's importance, however, lies also in his translations, which furthered the understanding of Italian Renaissance architecture in northern Europe.
Bibliography
J. Snyder, Northern Renaissance Art, 1985.
W. Stechow, ed., Northern Renaissance Art, 1400-1600: Sources and Documents, 1966.
Rosemary Poole

Renaissance and Reformation 1500-1620: A Biographical Dictionary. . 2001.

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  • Pieter van Aelst — or Pieter Coecke van Aelst (August 14, 1502 December 6, 1550) was a Flemish painter. He studied under Bernaert van Orley and later lived in Italy before entering the Antwerp Guild of painters in 1527. In 1533, he travelled to Constantinople for… …   Wikipedia


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