• NameJacques d' Arthois
  • Sexmale
  • Nationality/DatesFlemish, born 1613, dead 1686
Biographylandscape painter, draughtsman and designer of
tapestry cartoons. In 1625 Jacques d’Arthois was
apprenticed to the otherwise unknown painter Jan
Mertens (active from 1599). He became a master in
the Brussels Guild of St. Luke in 1634. In 1655 he
succeeded the landscape specialist Lodewijk de Vadder
as designer of cartoons cum privilegium for the
Brussels tapestry manufacture. Between 1639 and
1654 D’Arthois trained his brothers Hubert and
Nicolaes, and his son Jean Baptiste, as well as another
six apprentices. It is also assumed that Cornelis Huysmans
received at least part of his artistic training in
D’Arthois’ Brussels studio.
D’Arthois was the leading painter of the Brussels
school of decorative landscape painting in the second
half of the 17th century. Most of his picturesque
woodland scenes – dominated by tall trees with luxuriant
foliage – were set in the Forest of Soignes, a
large forest to the south and east of Brussels, where in
1655, at the height of his career, he purchased a
house. D’Arthois was proficient in both small and
large formats, producing cabinet-sized pictures as
well as large decorative paintings. He received
numerous commissions from churches and convents,
including one for several paintings in the transept of
the Cathedral of Sts. Michael and Gudule at Brussels.
D’Arthois also supplied cartoons for the tapestry
weavers of Brussels, Mechelen and Oudenaarde. His
earliest works were influenced by the densely wooded
landscapes of Denys van Alsloot, while subsequent
paintings exhibit the graceful fluidity of De Vadder’s
more open landscape compositions. Unlike earlier
Flemish landscapists, such as Van Alsloot and Gillis
van Coninxloo II, D’Arthois specialized in views of
the edge of the forest rather than the interior. A few
of his paintings are dated, the earliest in 1640
(Bruges, Groeningemuseum); a series of thirteen
engravings by Wenzel Hollar after D’Arthois’ landscapes,
dated 1648–1652 (Holl. IX, p. 70), provide a
framework for his early chronology. By the mid-
1650s his work shows the influence of Peter Paul
Rubens’ grand landscape designs: they are more
broadly painted and more expansive, yet retain a
calm, static quality linked to 16th-century traditions.
Strong colour contrasts in D’Arthois’ paintings are
developed essentially within a framework of the traditional
tripartite (brown-green-blue) colour scheme of
Netherlandish landscape painting. D’Arthois frequently
enlisted the aid of figure painters, who contributed
the staffage to his landscapes. His collaboration
with, among others, David Teniers II, Adam
Frans van der Meulen, Pieter Snayers and Gaspar de
Crayer, is documented.