Mirror of the Earth
The World Landscape in Sixteenth-Century Flemish Painting
AUTHOR: Gibson, Walter B.
PUBLISHER: Princeton University Press
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The Flemish world landscapes, which depict extensive panoramas seen in bird's-eye perspective and contain a wealth of map-like detail, were produced in large numbers, chiefly at Antwerp, during the sixteenth century. Although most major museums in the United States or Europe have at least one Flemish world landscape, relatively little has been written about this type of painting. As a corrective, Walter Gibson's copiously illustrated book presents a comprehensive study of the world landscape, establishing it as a distinct pictorial type and analyzing it within the artistic and intellectual milieu in which it flourished. We learn that far from being a medieval anachronism, as some scholars have insisted, the world landscape was very much a product of its time, associated with contemporary advances in cartography and reflecting a Renaissance view of the world and of man's relationship to it.
The first chapters trace the development of the world landscape from its formulation by Joachim Patinir to its culmination in the art of Pieter Bruegel the Elder. They include a close examination of representative paintings together with discussions about the reasons for the popularity of the landscapes and about wider issues concerning art theory. The final chapter covers the gradual disappearance of the world landscape after its final efflorescence in the work of Jan Brueghel and Peter Paul Rubens.
PUBLICATION DATE: 11/21/1989