LUCAS ACHTSCHELLINCK (1626-1699)
Paintings, Drawings, Prints & Tapestries

ABOUT

 

LUCAS ACHTSCHELLINCK

 

The following biography is mainly based on Philippe Dellis’s 1992 university thesis “Contribution à l’Etude de l’Oeuvre du Paysagiste Bruxellois Lucas Achtschellinck” (Contribution to the Artwork Study of the Brussels Landscapist Lucas Achtschellinck). 

Lucas Achtschellinck was baptized on January 16, 1626, at Saint Michel and Saint Gudula Cathedral in Brussels. His godfather was Jacobus Coluel, an army captain, and his godmother was Elisabeth de Mol.

Achtschellinck grew up in a well-to-do family. He was the fourth child and second son of Jan Achtschellinck and Anna Van Onckel, who married in 1620 and had eight children (five daughters and three sons). 

On October 29, 1639, at the age of 13, Lucas Achtschellinck was apprenticed to the painter Pieter Van der Borght, who himself had been an apprentice of the renowned Brussels painter Denijs Van Alsloot. Achtschellinck’s brother Peeter, also a painter, became an apprentice in 1643 to the Brussels painter Philippe Van der Elst. 

In 1651, at the age of 23, Achtschellinck became master of the Brussels Guild of Saint Luke. It was only on December 17, 1657, at the age of 31 and after 18 years of apprenticeship, that he became master of the same guild. This long lapse of time was possibly due to time abroad (in Italy?), as some authors have suggested, although no document has come to light to support this claim. It is likely, however, that his reputation was already firmly established by then, as two years earlier he had applied—though unsuccessfully—to succeed Lodewijk de Vadder (1605–1655) as a cartoon designer for the tapestry industry in Brussels.

While the reputed Flemish biographer Cornelis de Bie wrote in “Het Gulden Cabinet” (the guilt cabinet), published in 1662, that Achtschellinck had been apprenticed to Lodewijk de Vadder, there is no mention of this in the guild records. These records are reputed to be incomplete, and the influence of de Vadder on Achtschellinck’s work is obvious. 

Achtschellinck is widely regarded as a major figure of the seventeenth century’s so-called School of the Brussels Landscapists or Painters of the Sonian Forest. Lodewijk de Vadder is considered one of the founding fathers of this school, which included numerous artists, such as Jacques d’Arthois, Ignatius Van der Stock, François Coppens, Jan-Baptist and Theodoor van Heil, Guillaume van Schoor, and, in later years, Adriaan-Frans Boudewijns. 

The accounts of Saint Michel and Saint Gudula Cathedral show that Achtschellinck was paid fl. 120 for a painting in 1659 and another fl.120 for a painting in 1662.

Among Achtschellinck’s pupils, the guild’s records mention Jean Christophe Lottin (1659), Pierre du Bail (1662), and François Volders (1664). He seems to have had no apprentices between 1664 and 1674, which was perhaps due to economic depression in Brussels in the sixteen-sixties, that led masters of the Brussels Guild of Saint Luke to increasingly work alone and ultimately resulted in a decline in new masters being admitted to the guild. Achtschellinck probably also tried his luck outside his hometown for the same reason. Historical records mention his paintings in several monasteries and churches in Bruges and Mechelen. 

From at least 1674, Achtschellinck was back in Brussels, as the recruitment records for new apprentices shows Pierre Bedet (1674), Simon Bijean (1676), Pierre Hendrick (1681), G. Van Haettem (1683), and Theobald Michau (1686). Of all of his apprentices, only the latter became master (in 1698), and he would end up having a brilliant career as a follower of Jan Brueghel the Elder’s landscape tradition.

On May 13, 1674, at the age of 48, Achtschellinck married Anne Parijs in the Onze-Lieve-Vrouw van Finisterrae Church in Brussels. His best men were the painter Franciscus Duchastel and Thomas de Broyer, the husband of his sister Elisabeth. No children were born from this marriage. 

In 1681, Achtschellinck was granted tax privileges by the authorities of Brussels on the condition that he devoted himself to artistic work exclusively. 

In 1687, at the age of 63, together with Ch. Crockx and Josse Van Doornaels, he became dean of the Brussels Guild of Saint Luke and represented the guild’s painters for two years. 

Finally, in 1689, more than 30 years after his first application, Achtschellinck was fully acknowledged as a cartoon designer for tapestries by the authorities of Brussels. They granted him freedom from paying taxes on beer and wine. He was now at the apotheosis of his career.

In the following years, Achtschellinck increasingly worked for the Brussels tapissiers (tapestry producers), who enjoyed a wide reputation of excellence. His role was to design cartoons for the landscapes depicted on tapestries. The renown tapissier Hiëronymus De Clerck, associated to Jacob Van der Borcht ACastro and subsequently his son Jasper Van der Borcht, made use of Achtschellinck’s cartoons on multiple occasions. 

Achtschellinck died in 1699. His funeral was held at the Onze-Lieve-Vrouw van Finisterrae Church on May 12. 

Little is known of his brother, Peeter Achtschellinck. It is possible that he did not continue to work as a painter, as no paintings by his hand are known.

Achtschellinck mostly spelled his name Achtschellincs or Achtschellinck, to which other family members sometimes added an “x.”. One finds also the spelling "Achtschelling" in some inventories or catalogues.

Achtschellinck collaborated with many other artists, providing the landscapes for portraits history paintings and tapestries, or, vice versa, had his landscapes staffaged by one of his colleagues. The following names are encountered in a range of contemporary sources, such as estate inventories: Pieter Boel, Pieter Bout, Gonzales Coques, Gaspard de Crayer, Lucas Franchoys II, Victor Janssens, Hendrik van Minderhout, Michael Sweerts, David II Teniers, Jacob Vander Heyden, Adam-Frans Vander Meulen, Jacob Van Oost, Jan and Richard Van Orley, Lodewijk Van Schoor, Gillis Van Tilborgh and Frans Ykens. This list is probably still incomplete.

The only known (supposed) portrait of Lucas Achtschellinck is the one shown below by Lucas Franchoys II (see DELLIS, Ph., “Un portrait peint par Lucas Franchoys II” in Annales d’Histoire de l’Art et d’Archéologie, XVI, pp. 99–108, 1994).
 
 

LUCAS ACHTSCHELLINCK

 

The evolution of Achtschellinck’s style is hard to define because only two dated paintings by his hand are known. With a career that encompassed more than half a century, his style of painting must certainly have changed over time. In his early work, we may fairly assume that he painted in the style of the founding fathers of the Brussels landscape painters, in particular Lodewijk de Vadder, but also of the Antwerp-born painter Jacques Fouquier, who worked in Brussels in the 1620s before leaving for France and whose engraved work was widely used as a source of inspiration by other artists.

In Achtschellinck’s early years, the general scheme of his landscapes was highly traditional, with varying tones of brown, green, and blue to progressively express the recession of space. 

What characterizes Achtschellinck’s style is the boldness of his palette, the vigorous colors he used, almost to the point of exaggeration, as certain scholars claim. Powerful azure skylines combine with bright green foliage and touches of red in the staffage and leaves. The rendering of trees is highly baroque, with twisted and intertwining trunks and branches, often covered with ivy. The luminous, ocher-colored sandy slopes characteristic of de Vadder also occur in Achtschellinck’s paintings, although less prominently. Many of his paintings show a maze of sandy paths interspersed with meadows in the background or middle ground.

Achtschellinck’s brushwork is rather pasty, comparable with that of de Vadder’s, but he generally used long brushstrokes, while de Vadder’s tended to be short and overlapping. 

In most of his paintings, we find a particularly high contrast between dark and light, the darkly shaded foreground functioning as a strong repoussoir. To establish a light and dark structure, the artist used underpainting and glazing. The most characteristic feature of Achtschellinck’s work is the way light comes in from the background and shines through the trunks of trees in the middle ground. Further analysis is necessary, but this effect was probably obtained by means of an underpaint using light earth pigments.

At least by the 1680s—as two paintings dated 1680 and 1686 demonstrate—his landscapes had become more open and hillier, in line with the Italianate landscapes. Accordingly, and adding to the pastoral mood, the staffage changes from one or a few lone peasants to a multitude of figures and animals, mostly shepherds and their flocks. As Italianate landscapes had been in vogue for many decades by that time, we may assume that Achtschellinck deliberately clung to the more traditional depiction of the Sonian forest landscape.

AUTHORSHIP

Authors

The information on this website was collected and sorted by Emmanuel de Cannart d’Hamale in collaboration with art historian Philippe Dellis and historian Erik Wauters, and using the software skills of Jean-Baptiste Felix.

Sources

Information was mainly found in museums; in documentation centers and libraries, such as the Frick Art Reference Library (New York); the Louvre (Paris); RKD (The Hague); the Royal Library of Belgium (Brussels); the Royal Museums of Fine Arts of Belgium (Brussels), the Rubenianum (Antwerp); the Thomas J. Watson Library (New York); the Witt Library, and The Courtauld Institute of Art (London); in the archives of Jan De Maere (Brussels), Cornelis Hofstede de Groot, Cards Collection (RKD, The Hague), Michel Kervyn de Meerendré (Université Catholique de Louvain, Louvain-la-Neuve), and Pierre de Séjournet de Rameignies (Rubenianum, Antwerp); and in online databases, such as Artcyclopedia, Art UK, Art Renewal Centre, BALat-KIK-IRPA, BHA and Rila, Bildindex, the Bridgeman Art Library, Culture.fr, Cultura Italia, Europeana, Frick Digital Collections, the Getty Provenance Index, Joconde, RKD, VADS, Vlaamse Kunstcollectie, Web Gallery of Art, and WikiPaintings. 

The primary sources used for the biography section were found in the General State Archives of Belgium (notarial records), the Archives of the City of Brussels (guild records), and the parish registers of the churches of Brussels (baptisms, marriages and funerals).

Iconography

Images of the works posted on this site are for obvious information and identification, not for esthetical or reproduction purposes. They were either made by the authors or found in the sources. Their quality is sometimes poor, and some are truncated. Hopefully, their quality will improve over time, thanks to the contributions of visitors.

Acknowledments

The following persons helped in a way or another to the preparation of this site and are herewith warmly thanked:  François de Cannart d'Hamale * Céline Decottignies * Ingrid De Meûter * Evelien De Wilde * Katelijne Duchatelet *  Stefaan Hautekeete * Florian Kluger * Frank Kinnaer * Bérangère de Laveleye * Thierry Malbrancke *  Lara de Merode * Famke Peters * Jean-Pierre Stalmans * Jochen Suy * Hannah Thijs * Martine Van de Poel * Laurence Van Kerkhoven * Fleur Van Paassen.

VISITORS GUIDE

Works presented

We present paintings, drawings, prints, and tapestries that:
(i) are or were once given or attributed to Lucas Achtschellinck, or 
(ii) if given to another or unidentified artist, could, in our opinion, be given or attributed to him, or
(iii) are by another artist but are related to the works presented here.
Works attributed to “Circle,” “Follower,” “Manner,” etc. of Lucas Achtschellinck are in principle not presented here, unless they could, in our opinion, be given or attributed to him.

Home page

The homepage presents all the documented works in the order of paintings, drawings, prints, and tapestries. 
As only two dated works were found, a precise chronological presentation of the works presented is impossible. The works are presented in an order that, in our opinion, reflects the evolution of Lucas Achtschellinck’s art or his stylistic or thematic affinities. 
The tables Permanent Collections, Possessors, Art Dealers, Public Auctions, Exhibitions, and Bibliography, which are accessible via the top banner, allow sorting pursuant to the following criteria:
- Permanent collections: by country, city, collection, or inventory number.
- Possessors (past or present, when known): by possessor or country.
- Art dealers (when known): by art dealer or country.
- Public auctions: by date, city, country, auction house, or lot number.
- Exhibitions: by year, country, city, institution, exhibition title, or exhibition number.
- Bibliography: by author, title, or year of publication.
The FILTERS appearing on both the left and right sides of the images on the homepage allow multiple explorations through Lucas Achtschellinck’s works.

Individual cards

The works’ individual cards contain self-explanatory information and some that may need an explanation, such as:Image: can be magnified by a click; their quality is sometimes poor, and some are truncated.
- CDW number: corresponds only to the encoding number and has no other meaning; by clicking on the CDW number, the work appears in a highlighted rectangle in the works general presentation.
- Title: The title is either (i) an original title, (ii) an English translation of a title in another language, or (iii) a title given by us.
- State: for prints, when there is more than one state.
- Other title(s): various titles found for a work in their original languages.
- Dimensions: The height and width are indicated in centimeters (cm) and rounded up or down to the closest cm or half cm unit (e.g. 10 or 10,5); the indicated dimensions are approximations and may differ slightly from those of other sources.
- Attribution: (various) attribution(s) given to the work.
- Size (for paintings only):
   S:            H. and W. < 50 cm.
   M:          H. 50 - 100 cm.
   L:           H. 100 - 200 cm
   XL:        H. 200 - 300 cm
   XXL:     H. 300 - 400 cm
   XXXL:  H. > 400 cm
- Our assessment: We made our own assessment as to the attribution of the works as follows:  
LA 
LA (landscape)
LA, figures by another hand
LA, figures possibly by another hand
Possibly LA
Possibly LA (landscape)
Possibly LA, fig. possibly by another hand
Uncertain
Not by LA 
Insufficient information
Related work

- Public auctions: For technical reasons, when an auction extends over more than one day, only the last day is mentioned.

TERMS OF USE

The visit and use of this site are subject to the following Terms of Use:
1. This site being made by non-professionals and the work of Lucas Achtschellinck being largely undiscovered, the information contained in this site is inevitably incomplete and may contain errors or inaccuracies. 
2. This site claims no scientific or academic authority, especially on the question of attribution of the works. 
3. All or part of this site, including the present Terms of Use, may be amended or removed at any time without prior notice. 
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