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Massys (also: Matsys, Metsys) was the most important Antwerp artist of
the first half of the XVI century.
Massys was born in Louvain c.1465/66 and probably completed his training
there under the influence of Bouts.
We know nothing about his early work.
After having settled in Antwerp he was admitted to the Antwerp St. Lukas
Guild. He belonged to the circle of the humanists Petrus Aegidius and
and was certainly influenced by their ideas. It is not known whether Massys
traveled to Italy to study art there, as was fashionable even in his time,
but his work, which is based on the Flemish tradition, also revealed Italian
influences (particularly those of Leonardo
da Vinci). The central element in Massys’s work is man. Hence his interest
and talent for portraiture, which he sometimes used as the starting point
for genre paintings. Thomas More called Massys “the renovator of the old
The painter died in Antwerp in 1530.
Painting of Europe. XIII-XX centuries. Encyclopedic Dictionary.
Moscow. Iskusstvo. 1999.