Identified with the Master of Flemalle, one of the founders and great masters of the Flemish school of oil painting, born in Tournai, Flanders. The identity of the Master of Flemalle cannot be unquestionably confirmed, but most scholars agree that he and Robert Campin are the same man. Robert Campin became a master painter in Tournai in 1406 and remained active there until his death, painting mainly altarpieces and religious panel paintings.
Robert Campin's art is indebted to that of manuscript illumination, but his work displays greater powers of observation and ability to render plastic forms than is found in contemporary manuscript illumination. Characterized by a naturalistic conception of form and a poetic representation of the objects of daily life, Robert Campin's work marks the break with the prevailing International Gothic style and prefigures the achievements of Jan van Eyck and the painters of the Northern Renaissance. He broke with the idealized, artificial International Gothic style to pursue a revolutionary interest in realism. Three principal innovations distinguish Robert Campin's art and set it apart from the Gothic: his conception of the human figure in solid, three-dimensional terms; his awareness of perspective; and his preoccupation with the details of everyday life.
Robert Campin's work exerted an important influence on the two later masters of Flemish art, his pupil Rogier van der Weyden and Jan van Eyck.
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