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Fictitious biography of a genius


Simon Spruyt

Jan Bouvaert is a man with ambition. In early seventeenth-century Italy, he works as a painter at the court of Mantua, but his heart longs for Rome, where he wants to study the old masters. His brother Pieter has stayed behind in Antwerp, where he too is trying to realise his ambition: writing the ultimate ode to the donkey. When Pieter sends word that their mother is dying, Jan returns to Antwerp. Although by now he thinks quite highly of himself as an Italian trained painter, his reception in Antwerp does not reflect this. Luckily, he can seduce clients with his skillful portrayal of beautiful women. With the help of his wife Isabella he builds up his reputation and his business, but after his brother’s death he cannot get the donkey out of his mind.

The kind of mastery that very few authors possess, not even outside Belgium

Bouvaert, loosely based on Peter Paul Rubens, the greatest Flemish painter of the baroque, is dazzlingly brought to life by Simon Spruyt, who by his standards delivers a relatively straightforward story. Once again, he adapts his drawing style to his subject, and so Spruyt uses baroque images to create a fictitious biography that also pokes fun at the ego of artists and poses questions about what gives meaning to life.

An album worthy of the greatest Flemish painters
Page des librairies
Mesmerisingly beautiful
Het belang van Limburg