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Fantastic Landscape

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1598
The Netherlandish painter Paul Bril worked in Rome, where he became well known for his imaginative landscapes. He arrived in the city by 1582, having travelled from Antwerp to join his elder brother Matthijs. He followed Matthijs’s example, making detailed sketches of classical architecture which he incorporated into his paintings. (...) He sometimes used the visual pun of a pair of spectacles (‘bril’ in Dutch) as his signature.

This small painting on copper is a fine example of Bril’s imaginary landscapes. He used the established convention of dividing a distant vista into coloured bands to suggest the idea of receding space, from the warm brownish foreground, through to the lighter greenish middle ground and the cooler blue background. Bril also combined elements from his native Netherlandish landscape tradition, such as the twisted tree trunks, rocky outcrops and steep sided river valley, with his interest in classical fragments and architectural ruins. The lively figures provide colourful accents and some human interest.
(National Galleries of Scotland)
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