Oost, Jacob Van the Elder

Oost, Jacob van The Elder, an eminent Flemish painter, was born at Bruges about 1600. It is not known under whom he first studied, but in 1621 he painted an altar-piece for one of the churches in his native city, which excited the surprise and admiration of contemporary artists. Being ambitious of further improvement, he went to Rome, where he attentively studied the works of the great masters, and made those of Caracci the particular objects of his imitation. During his residence in that metropolis Van Oost produced several works of his own composition, so much in the style of the great artist that they astonished the best connoisseurs at Rome, and gained him great reputation. After a residence of five years in Italy, the love of country induced him to return to Bruges, where his talents had excited the most sanguine expectations even before he had gone abroad. Immediately on his arrival home he was loaded with commissions, and during the remainder of his life he continued to exercise his talents with undiminished reputation. He executed an incredible number of works for the churches and public edifices, as well as for the private collections of his country, particularly of Bruges. He also excelled in portraits, and painted many distinguished personages. His most famous works are, the Nativity, in the church of St. Savior; the Resurrection, in the cathedral; a grand composition; and the Descent from the Cross, in the church of the Jesuits at Brtuges, which last is considered his masterpiece. Most of his pictures are of large size. He died at Bruges in 1671. Van Oost is justly ranked among the ablest artists of the Flemish school. His first studies were the works of Rubens and Vandyck, and from them he acquired that freshness and purity of coloring for which his works are distinguished. Following the example of the greatest masters, his compositions are simple and studied, and he avoided crowding them with figures not essential to his subject. In his design, and in the expression of his heads, he seems always to have had in view the great style of Caracci. The backgrounds of his pictures are generally enriched with noble architecture, of which he was a perfect master. He had a ready invention, and, though he wrought with extraordinary facility of pencil, his works are well finished. See Descamps, La vie des peintres Flammands, 1:264, 280, 285; Pilkington, Dict. of Painters, s.v.; Spooner, Biog. Dict. of the Fine Arts vol. ii, s.v.

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