Bernard van Orley (between 1487 and 1491 – 6 January 1541), also called Barend or Barent van Orley, Bernaert van Orley or Barend van Brussel, was a leading artist in Dutch and Flemish Renaissance painting, though he was at least as active as a leading designer of Brussels tapestry and, at the end of his life, stained glass. Although he never visited Italy, he belongs to the group of Italianizing Flemish painters called the Romanists, who were influenced by Italian Renaissance painting, in his case especially by Raphael.
He was born and died in Brussels, and was the court artist of the Habsburg rulers, and "served as a sort of commissioner of the arts for the Brussels town council". He was extremely productive, concentrating on the design of his works, and leaving their actual execution largely to others in the case of painting, and entirely so in the case of the tapestries and stained glass. This too may well have been learned from Raphael, whose workshop in Rome was unprecedentedly large.
Accordingly, his many surviving works (somewhat depleted in number by Reformation iconoclasm) vary considerably in quality. There are many drawings, mostly studies for designs for tapestries and stained glass. He or his workshop would have produced full-scale cartoons for the tapestries, but these were normally lost in the course of weaving, when they were cut into strips. His paintings are generally either religious subjects or portraits, these mostly of Habsburgs repeated in several versions by the workshop, with few mythological subjects. But his tapestries were more varied, reflecting the normal range of that medium, from biblical cycles to allegories, battle and hunting scenes.
His father had been a tapestry designer in Brussels, and several of Bernard's descendents were artists; a number were active in the 18th century.
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