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Fire, Smoke And Vapour. Jan Brueghel's 'Poetic Hells': 'Ghespoock' In Early Modern European Art

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Chapter Summary

This chapter explores the aesthetic and cultural values associated with ?ghespoock? as well as the place of images of fires, ghosts and spectres in the visual arts around 1600. In early modern usage, ?spook? could equally refer to a ghost, a phantom, spectre, dream, fantasy, or delusion. At the centre of the author?s subsequent discussion are the nocturnal fires and hellish landscapes produced by Jan Brueghel the Elder (1568?1624) from about 1594 to about 1608. Jan Brueghel the Elder is generally seen as the ?last heir? of a generation of Flemish painters who worked in the manner of Hieronymus Bosch. The chapter focuses on Pieter Brueghel?s depictions of descents into hell. In about 1608, Jan Brueghel the Elder began to paint a series of allegories of fire that more closely link the Stygian regions to the realm of Vulcan as suggested in Karel van Mander?s treatise.

Keywords: early modern art; fire; ghespoock; hellish landscapes; Hieronymus Bosch; Jan Brueghel the Elder; Pieter Brueghel; realm of Vulcan; Stygian regions



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