Willem Vrelant was one of the most prolific, influential, and commercially successful illuminators working in Bruges during the third quarter of the 1400s. He moved from his home in Utrecht to Bruges sometime before 1454, when he was recorded as an active member of the Bruges guild of Saint John the Evangelist, which served illuminators, scribes, parchment-makers, and others involved in the book trade. A receipt for payment confirms that Vrelant illuminated a lavish historical manuscript for Philip the Good, duke of Burgundy, in 1468. Vrelant also produced numerous manuscripts for export and worked for other prominent patrons, including book collectors and some of the duke’s closest aides.
Vrelant’s distinctive style of illumination was conservative for the time. He used heavy black contours to outline his static figures and applied intense primary colors overall, along with gold for drapery highlights. Based on the large number of surviving examples of his work and the great range in their quality, he may have relied on a significant number of assistants and collaborators to fulfill his commissions.
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