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Gassel, Lucas (Flemish, b.Circa 1495-1500, d.Circa 1570)
Massys, Cornelis (Flemish, b.1465, d.1530)
The Baptism of Christ
oil on panel
365 x 520 mm panel size; 535 x 692 x 75 mm frame size
124-1982
De Beer/Dunedin Public Art Gallery
Collection of the Dunedin Public Art Gallery. Given 1982 by Mary, Dora and Esmond de Beer through the National Art Collections Fund, London.
Lucas Gassel, a Flemish artist of the so-called Northern Renaissance, was born in Helmond and died in Brussels. He mainly painted in oil on wooden panels, but occasionally used canvas. He was associated with a number of other Flemish artists, including Cornelis Massys and Herri met de Bles, in the School of Patinir. Gassel generally painted scenes from the Bible set in magical landscapes – Italianate mountain ranges and castles straight from his imagination – but also contemporary local details such as the Flemish people and windmills of his own surroundings. Such paintings were known as ‘philosophical landscapes’, depicting a ‘heavenly Jerusalem’.
Gassel’s signature style is the fabulous blue of the distant landscape, seemingly lit by the unearthly light of the Holy Spirit. The trees act as repoussoirs, drawing our eye to the blue beyond. Conservation has shown that Gassel made a graphite sketch, which he did not follow completely in the final painting – more boats were intended in the bay and a bridge joined the banks at the rivermouth. Works by Gassel are to be found in the Louvre, Paris and the Royal Museum of Fine Arts, Brussels.

not on view

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