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The Most Famous

PAINTERS from Belgium

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This page contains a list of the greatest Belgian Painters. The pantheon dataset contains 1,421 Painters, 86 of which were born in Belgium. This makes Belgium the birth place of the 7th most number of Painters behind Netherlands and United Kingdom.

Top 10

The following people are considered by Pantheon to be the top 10 most legendary Belgian Painters of all time. This list of famous Belgian Painters is sorted by HPI (Historical Popularity Index), a metric that aggregates information on a biography’s online popularity. Visit the rankings page to view the entire list of Belgian Painters.

Photo of Jan van Eyck

1. Jan van Eyck (1395 - 1441)

With an HPI of 78.88, Jan van Eyck is the most famous Belgian Painter.  His biography has been translated into 76 different languages on wikipedia.

Jan van Eyck ( van EYEK, Dutch: [ˈjɑn vɑn ˈɛik]; c.  before 1390 – July 9, 1441) was a painter active in Bruges who was one of the early innovators of what became known as Early Netherlandish painting, and one of the most significant representatives of Early Northern Renaissance art. According to Vasari and other art historians including Ernst Gombrich, he invented oil painting, though most now regard that claim as an oversimplification. The surviving records indicate that he was born around 1380 or 1390, most likely in Maaseik (then Maaseyck, hence his name), Limburg, which is located in present-day Belgium. He took employment in The Hague around 1422, when he was already a master painter with workshop assistants, and was employed as painter and valet de chambre to John III the Pitiless, ruler of the counties of Holland and Hainaut. After John's death in 1425, he was later appointed as court painter to Philip the Good, Duke of Burgundy, and worked in Lille before moving to Bruges in 1429, where he lived until his death. He was highly regarded by Philip, and undertook a number of diplomatic visits abroad, including to Lisbon in 1428 to explore the possibility of a marriage contract between the duke and Isabella of Portugal.About 20 surviving paintings are confidently attributed to him, as well as the Ghent Altarpiece and the illuminated miniatures of the Turin-Milan Hours, all dated between 1432 and 1439. Ten are dated and signed with a variation of his motto ALS ICH KAN (As I (Eyck) can), a pun on his name, which he typically painted in Greek characters. Van Eyck painted both secular and religious subject matter, including altarpieces, single-panel religious figures and commissioned portraits. His work includes single panels, diptychs, triptychs, and polyptych panels. He was well paid by Philip, who sought that the painter was secure financially and had artistic freedom so that he could paint "whenever he pleased". Van Eyck's work comes from the International Gothic style, but he soon eclipsed it, in part through a greater emphasis on naturalism and realism. He achieved a new level of virtuosity through his developments in the use of oil paint. He was highly influential, and his techniques and style were adopted and refined by the Early Netherlandish painters.

Photo of René Magritte

2. René Magritte (1898 - 1967)

With an HPI of 77.56, René Magritte is the 2nd most famous Belgian Painter.  His biography has been translated into 75 different languages.

René François Ghislain Magritte (French: [ʁəne fʁɑ̃swa ɡilɛ̃ maɡʁit]; 21 November 1898 – 15 August 1967) was a Belgian surrealist artist known for his depictions of familiar objects in unfamiliar, unexpected contexts, which often provoked questions about the nature and boundaries of reality and representation. His imagery has influenced pop art, minimalist art, and conceptual art.

Photo of Anthony van Dyck

3. Anthony van Dyck (1599 - 1641)

With an HPI of 74.93, Anthony van Dyck is the 3rd most famous Belgian Painter.  His biography has been translated into 70 different languages.

Sir Anthony van Dyck (Dutch pronunciation: [vɑn ˈdɛik], many variant spellings; 22 March 1599 – 9 December 1641) was a Flemish Baroque artist who became the leading court painter in England after success in the Spanish Netherlands and Italy. The seventh child of Frans van Dyck, a wealthy Antwerp silk merchant, Anthony painted from an early age. He was successful as an independent painter in his late teens, and became a master in the Antwerp guild in 1618. By this time he was working in the studio of the leading northern painter of the day, Peter Paul Rubens, who became a major influence on his work. Van Dyck worked in London for some months in 1621, then returned to Flanders for a brief time, before travelling to Italy, where he stayed until 1627, mostly in Genoa. In the late 1620s he completed his greatly admired Iconography series of portrait etchings, mostly of other artists. He spent five years in Flanders after his return from Italy, and from 1630 was court painter for the archduchess Isabella, Habsburg Governor of Flanders. In 1632, he returned to London to be the main court painter, at the request of Charles I of England. With the exception of Holbein, van Dyck and his contemporary Diego Velázquez were the first painters of pre-eminent talent to work mainly as court portraitists, revolutionising the genre. He is best known for his portraits of the aristocracy, most notably Charles I, and his family and associates. Van Dyck became the dominant influence on English portrait-painting for the next 150 years. He also painted mythological and biblical subjects, including altarpieces, displayed outstanding facility as a draughtsman, and was an important innovator in watercolour and etching. His influence extends into the modern period. The Van Dyke beard is named after him. During his lifetime, Charles I granted him a knighthood, and he was buried in St Paul's Cathedral, an indication of his standing at the time of his death.

Photo of Rogier van der Weyden

4. Rogier van der Weyden (1390 - 1464)

With an HPI of 73.54, Rogier van der Weyden is the 4th most famous Belgian Painter.  His biography has been translated into 59 different languages.

Rogier van der Weyden (Dutch: [roːˈɣiːr vɑn dər ˈʋɛi̯də(n)]) or Roger de la Pasture (1399 or 1400 – 18 June 1464) was an early Netherlandish painter whose surviving works consist mainly of religious triptychs, altarpieces, and commissioned single and diptych portraits. He was highly successful in his lifetime; his paintings were exported to Italy and Spain, and he received commissions from, amongst others, Philip the Good, Netherlandish nobility, and foreign princes. By the latter half of the 15th century, he had eclipsed Jan van Eyck in popularity. However his fame lasted only until the 17th century, and largely due to changing taste, he was almost totally forgotten by the mid-18th century. His reputation was slowly rebuilt during the following 200 years; today he is known, with Robert Campin and van Eyck, as the third (by birth date) of the three great Early Flemish artists (Vlaamse Primitieven or "Flemish Primitives"), and widely as the most influential Northern painter of the 15th century.Very few details of van der Weyden's life are known. The few facts we know come from fragmentary civic records. Yet the attribution of paintings now associated to him is widely accepted, partly on the basis of circumstantial evidence, but primarily on the stylistic evidence of a number of paintings by an innovative master. Van der Weyden worked from life models, and his observations were closely observed. Yet he often idealised certain elements of his models' facial features, who were typically statuesque, especially in his triptychs. All of his forms are rendered with rich, warm colourisation and a sympathetic expression, while he is known for his expressive pathos and naturalism. His portraits tend to be half length and half profile, and he is as sympathetic here as in his religious triptychs. Van der Weyden used an unusually broad range of colours and varied tones; in his finest work the same tone is not repeated in any other area of the canvas, so even the whites are varied.

Photo of Frans Hals

5. Frans Hals (1582 - 1666)

With an HPI of 73.22, Frans Hals is the 5th most famous Belgian Painter.  His biography has been translated into 63 different languages.

Frans Hals the Elder (UK: , US: , Dutch: [frɑns ˈɦɑls]; c. 1582 – 26 August 1666) was a Dutch Golden Age painter, chiefly of individual and group portraits and of genre works, who lived and worked in Haarlem. Hals played an important role in the evolution of 17th-century group portraiture. He is known for his loose painterly brushwork.

Photo of Pieter Brueghel the Younger

6. Pieter Brueghel the Younger (1564 - 1636)

With an HPI of 69.91, Pieter Brueghel the Younger is the 6th most famous Belgian Painter.  His biography has been translated into 44 different languages.

Pieter Brueghel (also Bruegel or Breughel) the Younger (, also US: ; Dutch: [ˈpitər ˈbrøːɣəl] (listen); between 23 May and 10 October 1564 – between March and May 1638) was a Flemish painter, known for numerous copies after his father Pieter Bruegel the Elder's work as well as his original compositions. The large output of his studio, which produced for the local and export market, contributed to the international spread of his father's imagery. Traditionally Pieter Brueghel the Younger has been nicknamed "de helse Brueghel" or "Hell Brueghel" because it was believed he was the author of several paintings with fantastic depictions of fire and grotesque imagery. These paintings have now been attributed to his brother Jan Brueghel the Elder.

Photo of Jan Brueghel the Elder

7. Jan Brueghel the Elder (1568 - 1625)

With an HPI of 68.89, Jan Brueghel the Elder is the 7th most famous Belgian Painter.  His biography has been translated into 43 different languages.

Jan Brueghel (also Bruegel or Breughel) the Elder (, also US: ; Dutch: [ˈjɑn ˈbrøːɣəl] (listen); 1568 – 13 January 1625) was a Flemish painter and draughtsman. He was the son of the eminent Flemish Renaissance painter Pieter Bruegel the Elder. A close friend and frequent collaborator with Peter Paul Rubens, the two artists were the leading Flemish painters in the first three decades of the 17th century. Brueghel worked in many genres including history paintings, flower still lifes, allegorical and mythological scenes, landscapes and seascapes, hunting pieces, village scenes, battle scenes and scenes of hellfire and the underworld. He was an important innovator who invented new types of paintings such as flower garland paintings, paradise landscapes, and gallery paintings in the first quarter of the 17th century. He further created genre paintings that were imitations, pastiches and reworkings of his father's works, in particular his father's genre scenes and landscapes with peasants. Brueghel represented the type of the pictor doctus, the erudite painter whose works are informed by the religious motifs and aspirations of the Catholic Counter-Reformation as well as the scientific revolution with its interest in accurate description and classification. He was court painter of the Archduke and Duchess Albrecht and Isabella, the governors of the Habsburg Netherlands. The artist was nicknamed "Velvet" Brueghel, "Flower" Brueghel, and "Paradise" Brueghel. The first is believed to have been given him because of his mastery in the rendering of fabrics. The second nickname is a reference to his fame as a painter of (although not a specialist in) flower pieces and the last one to his invention of the genre of the paradise landscape. His brother Pieter Brueghel the Younger was traditionally nicknamed "de helse Brueghel" or "Hell Brueghel" because it was believed he was the author of a number of paintings with fantastic depictions of fire and grotesque imagery. These paintings have now been reattributed to Jan Brueghel the Elder.

Photo of Hugo van der Goes

8. Hugo van der Goes (1440 - 1482)

With an HPI of 67.91, Hugo van der Goes is the 8th most famous Belgian Painter.  His biography has been translated into 41 different languages.

Hugo van der Goes (c. 1430/1440 – 1482) was one of the most significant and original Flemish painters of the late 15th century. Van der Goes was an important painter of altarpieces as well as portraits. He introduced important innovations in painting through his monumental style, use of a specific colour range and individualistic manner of portraiture. From 1483 onwards, the presence of his masterpiece, the Portinari Triptych, in Florence played a role in the development of realism and the use of colour in Italian Renaissance art.

Photo of Jacob Jordaens

9. Jacob Jordaens (1593 - 1678)

With an HPI of 67.23, Jacob Jordaens is the 9th most famous Belgian Painter.  His biography has been translated into 36 different languages.

Jacob (Jacques) Jordaens (19 May 1593 – 18 October 1678) was a Flemish painter, draughtsman and a designer of tapestries and prints. He was a prolific artist who created biblical, mythological, and allegorical compositions, genre scenes, landscapes, illustrations of Flemish sayings and portraits. After the death of Rubens and Anthony van Dyck, he became the leading Flemish Baroque painter of his time. Unlike those illustrious contemporaries he never travelled abroad to study the Antique and Italian painting and, except for a few short trips to locations elsewhere in the Low Countries, he resided in Antwerp his entire life. He also remained largely indifferent to Rubens and van Dyck's intellectual and courtly aspirations. This attitude was expressed in his art through a lack of idealistic treatment which contrasted with that of these contemporaries.His principal patrons were the wealthy bourgeoisie and local churches. Only late in his career did he receive royal commissions, including from King Charles I of England, Queen Christina of Sweden and the stadtholder class of the Dutch Republic. As well as being a successful painter, he was a prominent designer of tapestries and prints.While he is today mostly identified with his large-scale genre scenes such as The King Drinks (also called the Feast of the Bean King) and As the Old Sing, So Pipe the Young, his contemporary reputation was based as much on his numerous mythological, allegorical and biblical scenes. Often regarded as a pupil and epigone of Rubens, he was never recorded as a member of Rubens' workshop. He regularly worked as an independent collaborator of Rubens. The principal influence of Rubens on his work is the use of the chiaroscuro technique which Rubens himself had mastered through his study of Caravaggio's paintings during his stay in Italy. His main artistic influences, besides Rubens, were northern Italian painters such as Jacopo Bassano, Paolo Veronese, and Caravaggio.

Photo of James Ensor

10. James Ensor (1860 - 1949)

With an HPI of 67.11, James Ensor is the 10th most famous Belgian Painter.  His biography has been translated into 41 different languages.

James Sidney Edouard, Baron Ensor (13 April 1860 – 19 November 1949) was a Belgian painter and printmaker, an important influence on expressionism and surrealism who lived in Ostend for most of his life. He was associated with the artistic group Les XX.

Pantheon has 86 people classified as painters born between 1355 and 1958. Of these 86, 3 (3.49%) of them are still alive today. The most famous living painters include Pierre Alechinsky, Jan Fabre, and Jan Theuninck. The most famous deceased painters include Jan van Eyck, René Magritte, and Anthony van Dyck. As of April 2022, 9 new painters have been added to Pantheon including Michiel Coxie, Hendrick van Balen the Elder, and Cornelis Norbertus Gijsbrechts.

Living Painters

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Deceased Painters

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Newly Added Painters (2022)

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Which Painters were alive at the same time? This visualization shows the lifespans of the 17 most globally memorable Painters since 1700.