Herri became the artistic successor of Joachim Patinir (ca. 1480–1524), the inventor of a type of landscape painting known as Weltlandschaften (‘World Landscapes’) characterized by their sweeping vistas and narrative subject accessorizing the foreground; until then, landscape had been mostly relegated to the backdrop of religious paintings. The typical Blesian landscape, such as the Landscape with the Good Samaritan (musée des Arts anciens du Namurois, Namur) preserved many of Patinir’s formulae of craggy rock formations and richly saturated layers of brown, green and blues, however, remarkably, Herri met de Bles was among the first to paint landscapes without the vestige of religion. His inventive approach and secular interest paved the way to the advent of Pieter Bruegel the Elder (ca. 1525–69) a generation later, but even more so on the artists to follow, namely, Jan Brueghel (1568–1625), Paul Bril (1554–1626) and Roelandt Savery (1576–1639).
Top 3 auction prices
Lille, Palais des Beaux Arts de Lille, Fables du paysage Flamand : Bosch, Bles, Brueghel, Bril, 6 October 2012 – 14 January 2013. Curated by Alain Tapié and Michel Weemans.
Namur, Musée provincial des Arts anciens du Namurois, Henri Bles, peintre de Bouvignes, 13 May 1 November 2000. Curated by Jacques Toussaint.
Oberlin, Allen Memorial Art Museum, Herri met de Bles and the development of the Netherlandish landscape, 4 May – 8 September 1996.
Princeton, Princeton University Art Museum, Anatomy of a Painting: The Road to Calvary by Herri met de Bles, 10 October – 26 November 1995. Curated by Betsy Rosasco and Norman Muller.
Books on Herri met de Bles
Michael Weemans, Herri Met de Bles : Les Ruses du Paysage au Temps de Bruegel et d’Érasme, Paris, 2013.
Alain Tapie, ed., Fables du paysage flamande: Bosch, Bles, Brueghel, Bril, Paris, 2012.
Autour de Henri Bles, musée des Arts anciens du Namurois, Namur 2000.
Karel van Mander, The Lives of the Illustrious Netherlandish and German Painters, 1603/4, trans. Hessel Miedema, Doornspijk, 1994