Michiel Coxie  

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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.
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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.

Michiel Coxie, Coxie also spelled Coxcie or Coxien, Latinised name Coxius (1499 – 3 March 1592) was a Flemish painter who studied under Bernard van Orley, who probably induced him to visit the Italian peninsula.

Coxie was born in 1499 in Mechelen in what was then the Duchy of Brabant. At Rome in 1532 he painted the chapel of Cardinal Enckenvoirt in the church of Santa Maria dell'Anima; and Giorgio Vasari, who knew him, says with truth that he fairly acquired the manner of an Italian. But Coxie's principal occupation was designing for engravers; and the fable of Psyche in thirty-two sheets by Agostino Veneziano and the Master of the Die are favorable specimens of his skill.

Returning to the Netherlands, Coxie greatly extended his practice in this branch of art. But his productions were till lately concealed under an interlaced monogram M.C.O.K.X.I.N. In 1539, Coxie returned to Mechelen, where he matriculated and painted the wings of an altarpiece for the chapel of the guild of St Luke. The centre of this altar-piece, by Jan Mabuse, represents Saint Luke the Evangelist, patron of painters, portraying the Virgin; the side pieces contain the Martyrdom of Saint Vitus and the Vision of St John the Evangelist in Patmos.

At van Orley's death in 1541 Coxie succeeded to the office of court painter to the Regent Maria of Austria, for whom he decorated the castle of Binche. He was subsequently patronized by Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor, who often coupled his works with those of Titian; by Philip II of Spain, who paid him royally for a copy of Jan van Eyck's Agnus Dei, and also commissioned two copies of Van der Weyden's Descent from the Cross from Coxie; and by Fernando Álvarez de Toledo, Duke of Alva, who once protected him from the insults of Spanish soldiery at Mechelen. At that time, Coxie also designed tapestries for the Brussels manufacturers.

Many tapestries were sold to Sigismund II Augustus for his castle on the Wawel. Coxie may also have designed the tapestries for Phillip II's Royal Palace of Madrid depicting episodes of the life of Cyrus II, based on the writing of Herodotus.

There are large masterworks of his from (1587-1588) in the St. Rumbolds Cathedral of Mechelen, in the St. Michael and Gudula Cathedral of Brussels, and in the museums of Brussels and Antwerp. His style is Raphaelesque grafted on the Flemish, but his imitation of Raphael, whilst it distantly recalls Giulio Romano, is never free from affectation and stiffness. He was known as the Flemish Raphael. He died at Mechelen on 5 March, 1592 at the age of 92, after falling from a flight of stairs.





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