Dieric Bouts


Dieric Bouts (approx. 1415 – 1475) is one of the great Flemish Primitives. The painter gifted the world an collection full of rich scenes, powerful portraits and out of this world landscapes. Although he was not born there, he is regarded as a native of Leuven.

Dieric Bouts, Flemish Primitive in Leuven

Dieric Bouts was the artist of his time. Not a homo universalis or romantic genius, but a full-bodied image maker. His legacy is proof of that: a rich collection of harmonious compositions in a bright colour palette. Despite the warm use of colour, his paintings exude a sense of restraint. Bouts kept superficial drama out of his work. His characters are portrayed almost stoically and radiate a certain piety. That is why he is sometimes called the ‘painter of the silence’. His figures are fully absorbed in the interior or landscape of the painting, often in a balanced and symmetrical composition.

Some influences are clearly recognisable in the work of this native of Leuven. He shares with the great Jan van Eyck, a precise depiction of reality. Bouts’ (presumed) teacher, the Flemish Primitive Rogier van der Weyden, was also a source of inspiration. They both excelled in their plasticity, the suggestion of three-dimensionality in a painting.


Although Bouts was born in Haarlem - in present-day Netherlands - he is still remembered in the history books as one of the greatest natives of Leuven. Bouts ended up there around 1448. He married Catharina Van der Brugghen, the daughter of a wealthy merchant. Together they had four children. Two of them, Dieric Junior and Aelbrecht, followed in his footsteps and also became painters. At the age of sixty, Dieric Bouts took his last breath in his house on Minderbroedersstraat in Leuven.

Throughout his life, Bouts held an important position within the city. For the last nine years of his life, he was the official city painter of Leuven. To admire his work, you must visit the most important museums in the Western world, but it can also be seen in his own Leuven. His magnum opus The Last Supper still adorns the spot for which it was painted: St. Peter’s Church in the heart of Leuven. Nearly 600 years after his death, Bouts is still at home there.

Dieric Bouts in Flanders

Dieric Bouts is the artistic icon of Leuven. You can find this Flemish Primitive in the most important museums of the West, but he is above all at home in Flanders. Explore his legacy in his home town of Leuven, as well as in Bruges and Brussels. Get acquainted with this pioneer of the northern Renaissance.


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