Flemish Artists’ Training Voyages in Italy

Illustration: Maarten van Heemsckerck, Self-Portrait In Rome with the Colosseum, 1553, Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge.

The many accounts during the seventeenth and later eighteenth centuries recounting the travels of artists along the roads of Europe, generally towards Italy, attest to a practice that was already commonly included in the training programs for artists of the time, but that had existed as early as in the sixteenth century. Seeking to learn a new way of painting, they left for Italy and most often Rome, with the aim of acquainting themselves with the contributions of the Italian Renaissance, before returning to their country of origin to apply the lessons. The travels of Northern artists during the sixteenth century, which are less well known because poorly documented, nevertheless made significant contributions to a renewal of the formal language and thematic repertoire of Flemish painting, as well as to the diffusion and circulation of artistic models on a European scale.