Juan de Flandes is a rather mysterious person, because we do not know the exact dates of birth and death, nor his full name. Extremely scarce information remained about his life, so his immortal canvases remain the main witnesses to the existence of this talented artist.
This master was supposedly born in the 1460s in the Netherlands. This country was then one of the provinces of Spain, so the artist is considered an outstanding representative of the Spanish Renaissance painting. Even his name, known to us now, may turn out to be just a reference to his origin - “Juan da Flandes” can mean only “Jan from Flanders”. He was also called simply the Master of Ghent or Ian Salaert. The exact name is not preserved in history.
It is known that from 1496 to 1519 he worked as a court artist of Queen Isabella of Castile and other senior officials of the country. The first mention dates back to 1496, and two years later it was recorded in documents in this official position. He served in the court of the Queen until her death in 1504. After that, the next year he moved to Salamanca, where he created several paintings for the Altar of St. Michael in the local cathedral and for the university.
After 4 years, by order of Bishop de Fonseca, the master writes a retablo for the Valencia Cathedral. This is a type of altarpiece accepted in Spain. It consisted of 12 parts and has survived to the present day, continuing to impress believers with its expressiveness, and art lovers with mastery of performance.
The life of the artist ended in Valencia, presumably in October 1519, because later on in the documents his wife already appears as a widow.
It is believed that the works of this master combine the features of Flemish and Spanish painting. The influence of the work of van Eyck and the entire Northern Renaissance as a whole is especially noticeable. It should be noted that Spanish painting, and the art of many other European countries at that time, was under the strong influence of Dutch painting.
At the court of Queen Isabella of Castile, the artist created a significant number of portraits of members of the reigning family, some of which have survived to this day. For example, in the portrait of Queen Juana Mad, traits of Dutch painting are clearly traced. They are noticeable in the careful writing of facial features and in the elaboration of the smallest details, especially in the delicate embroidery and golden pose of the elegant dress of the royal person.
In addition to expressive and very accurate portraits, the master actively wrote works on church subjects. In addition to the surviving retablo in Valencia, he created a portable product, which included as many as 48 small images. Unfortunately, not all of them have stood the test of time. Less than half of them are now in various museums and private collections in the world. His works are expressive and memorable, thanks to which Juan de Flandes is considered the first of the famous court painters and portrait painters of Spain.