Shaping the Netherlandish Canon

Karel Van Mander's Schilder-Boeck

Walter S. Melion

Shaping the Netherlandish Canon

Walter S. Melion

385 pages | 114 halftones | 6 x 9 | © 1991
Cloth $80.00 ISBN: 9780226519593 Published April 1992
A treatise on Dutch art on par with Vasari's critical history
of Italian art, Karel van Mander's Schilder-Boeck (or
Book on Picturing) has long been recognized for its critical
and historical influence—and yet, until now, no
comprehensive account of the book's conception, aims, and
impact has been available. In this in-depth analysis of the
content and context of Van Mander's work, Walter S. Melion
reveals the Schilder-Boeck's central importance to an
understanding of northern Renaissance and Baroque art.

By interpreting the terminology employed in the
Schilder-Boeck, Melion establishes the text's
relationship to past and contemporary art theory. Van Mander
is seen here developing his critical categories and then
applying them to Ancient, Italian, and Netherlandish artists
in order to mark changes within a culture and to characterize
excellence for each region. Thus Melion demonstrates how Van
Mander revised both the structure and critical language of
Vasari's Lives to refute the Italian's claims for the
superiority of the Tuscan style, and to clarify northern
artistic traditions and the concerns of Netherlandish
artists. A much needed corrective to the view that Dutch art
of the period was lacking in theory, Melion's work offers a
compelling account of a sixteenth- and seventeenth-century
theoretical and critical perspective and shows how this
perspective suggests a rereading of northern art.

Walter S. Melion is assistant professor of art history
at The Johns Hopkins University.

List of Illustrations
Introduction: The Affinity of History and Landscape
Part One - The Argument of Format
2. The Netherlandish Response to the Ancients
3. The Play of Critical Categories
4. Local Usages: Netticheydt, Affecten, and Reflexy-Const
5. Biography as the Prism of Netherlandish Concerns
Part Two
6. Establishing the Contingency of Vasari's Arts of Disegno
7. Revising the Vite
8. Assimilating the Tuscan Canon
Part Three
9. Van Mander and the Circle of Abraham Ortelius: Lucas de Heere and Marcus van Vaernewyck on the Visual Arts
10. Lampsonius and Lombard: Assembling the Northern Canon
11. Van Mander and Lampsonius: Further Commonalities of Discourse
12. Ortelius and Van Mander on Viewing the Art of Pieter Bruegel
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