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Jacques Bellange
Birth Date: 
Birth Place: 
Bassigny, France
Death Date: 
Death Place: 
Mannerist painter, etcher and draftsman Jacques Bellange was the court painter to the Dukes of Lorraine in Nancy from 1602 until 1616. Most of his paintings and decorative works have been lost, and he is known today through his etchings and drawings. His art seems influenced by such artists as the Italian Parmigianino (1503-1540), the Flemish artist Bartholomaeus Spranger (1546-1611) and Hendrik Goltzius (1558-1617) from Utrecht, attesting to the circulation of prints by and after these artists throughout Europe. His highly refined work is among the latest and most extreme expressions of Mannerism. Documentation about his life is scant, limited primarily to contracts and records of payment for his work at the Court of Lorraine. He may have been born in the small town of Bellange, in Lorraine, and may have received his early artistic training there. He is recorded as being in Nancy in 1595. He designed a scene for an engraved Passion series published in 1600-1601 by Crispijn de Passe the Elder (ca 1565-1637), then working in Cologne, and perhaps other engravings published by de Passe at the time. Bellange was appointed court painter to Charles III, Duke of Lorraine (1543-1608) in 1602, and created portraits and decorations for the ducal palace, including at least six paintings depicting events in Roman history. Various documents record other portraits, religious paintings and other decorations during his tenure. All of the decorations were lost, including some twenty scenes of the hunt and other decorations for the ducal palace’s Galerie des Cerfs, which was destroyed by fire in 1871. In 1605 Claude Deruet (1588-1660) was apprenticed to Bellange. In 1608 the Duke paid for Bellange to travel to Paris to study; the School of Fontainebleau influenced his later work. Bellange’s first etching appeared in a lavish illustrated book, Pompe funèbre de Charles III (1611), created to record the funeral of Charles III in 1608 and the triumphal entry into Nancy of his son and successor, Duke Henri II (1563-1624), in 1610. Bellange may have learned etching from Friedrich Brentel (1580-1651), the German printmaker and painter who had been recruited to etch plates for the numerous illustrations. Bellange went on to create nearly fifty etchings; approximately eighty drawings are attributed to him. The last record of his work in the surviving Court archives notes that Bellange designed costumes and decorations for a ballet in 1616. Deruet was appointed court painter to the Duke Henri II in 1620, suggesting that Bellange was no longer active and perhaps deceased, and a 1624 document notes that the Galerie des Cerfs was painted by “the late Bellange”. Current scholarship places the date of his death as 1616. (Rev. TNB 5/2012) Selected bibliography: Worthen, Amy N., and Sue Welsh Reed. The etchings of Jacques Bellange. Exhibition Catalog. Des Moines, Iowa: Des Moines Art Center, 1975.