Several Flemish painters from the second half of the 16th century and the first half of the 17th century were excellent fire painters: Joachim Patinir, our Gillis Mostaert, Jan Brueghel I, Kerstiaen de Keuninck or Daniel van Heil. Hell scenes, the biblical destruction of the sinful towns of Sodom and Gomorrah or the fall of Troy, all formed an excellent justification for convincingly demonstrating their skills.
About Gillis Mostaert I
Hulst 1528 – 1598 Antwerp
Mostaert was born into a family of painters:
- Gillis’ twin brother, Frans was also a painter;
- according to the painters’ biographer Karel van Mander their father had been a painter;
- both boys studied in Haarlem with their grandfather, Jan (circa 1475 – 1552/53). Jan was an important painter of religious scenes and of portraits.
After this early training Gillis studied with Jan Mandijn, while his brother Frans studied with Herri met de Bles.
Gillis became master in the Painter’s Guild of Saint Luke in Antwerp in the year 1554/55. His brother Frans joined the guild possibly before him.
Gillis remained active in this town until his death in 1598.
Frans died already at a young age, in 1560, possibly due to the plague.
Gillis married in Antwerp in 1563 Margareta Baes; the couple had many children. The painters Pieter Baltens and Crispijn van den Broeck were the godfathers of two of them.
Gillis, painted genre scenes and landscapes and village scenes with groups of figures (for example at market and fair days). He was foremost a narrative figure painter.
He was also active as a staffage painter, painting the figures in landscapes of colleagues, such as Cornelis van Dalem, Ambrosius Francken, Jacob Grimmer (between 1554 and 1589), Hendrik van Steenwijck I, Maarten de Vos and Hans Vredeman de Vries.
Gillis was the master of the landscape painter Gillis van Coninxloo II, Frans of Jan Soens and of Bartholomeus Spranger.
About Lot and his daughters
The story of Lot, a nephew of Abraham, is told in the first book of the Ancient Testament, the Book of Genesis, in chapters 18 and 19.
God informed Abraham that he planned to destroy the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah for the grave sins of their inhabitants. Abraham pleaded with God not to kill all the inhabitants for there should be some righteous people amongst them: 50, 45, 30, maybe 20, finally the Lord settled for 10.
God sent two angels to Sodom. They arrived there in the evening and Abraham’s nephew Lot, in fact the only ‘good’ man in the town, offered them hospitality and food. Before they had gone to bed, all the men from every part of the city of Sodom - both young and old - surrounded the house. They called to Lot, ‘Where are the men who came to you tonight? Bring them out to us so that we can have sex with them.’ Lot went outside and proposed them his two daughters who have never slept with a man, for he did not want them to hurt these men, for they had come under the protection of his roof. The male inhabitants of Sodom kept insisting that he would bring the two strangers, so the two angels struck all of them with blindness.
The next morning the angels led Lot, his wife and his two daughters out of the sinful town. God told them not to look back on their way to the nearby town of Zoar while He destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah with a burning rain of sulfur. But Lot’s wife looked back and she was changed into a pillar of salt.
Why should you buy this painting?
Because great painters, from Jan Brueghel the Elder to Turner, can express themselves in flames.