Many of these paintings originally hung in churches and monasteries in Antwerp and other European cities. Most attention focuses on the ‘big three’: Peter Paul Rubens, Anthony van Dyck and Jacob Jordaens. Rubens was the most important, the most talented, and the most influential seventeenth-century Flemish painter. He was also a phenomenon in his day, a true homo universalis.
The portraits produced by Van Dyck for the court of King Charles I of England also share the limelight, along with impressive history paintings by Jordaens, exuding the vibrant atmosphere in which he excelled.
Other masters in this overview include Frans Snijders, with a number of surprisingly dynamic still lifes, and David Teniers the Younger, with numerous delicately-painted genre pieces. The book also discusses Antwerp as a city of art and the history of the Flemish art collection in the Hermitage.