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Originally from Dinant or Bouvignes in present-day Belgium, Patinir became registered as a member of Antwerp's painters’ guild Guild of Saint Luke in 1515, where he spent the rest of his life. He may have studied with Gerard David at Bruges, who had been registered as a guild member in the same year as Patinir. In 1511, Patinir is believed to have travelled to Genoa with David and Adrien Ysenbrandt.
In 1521, Patinir’s friend Albrecht Dürer attended his second wedding and painted his portrait. Dürer called Patinir "der gute Landschaftmaler" ("a good painter of landscapes"), thus creating a neologism translated later into the French. Patinir often let his landscapes dwarf his figures, which were often painted by other artists. Such specialization was becoming common in Low Countries painting at the time. Many of his works are unusually large for Netherlandish panel paintings of the time, as are those of Hieronymus Bosch, another painter of large landscapes, from a generation earlier. Patenir's immense vistas combine observation of naturalistic detail with lyrical fantasy, the prime example of which is his The Flight into Egypt (Museum of Antwerp). The rocks in his landscapes are more spectacular versions of those around his native Dinant. The further landscape features are painted with a green and blue palette which expresses the dimming caused by distance. Other examples of his work include The Rest on the Flight into Egypt (Prado, who have four Patiners, including two signed ones), The Baptism of Christ (one of two in Vienna), St. John at Patmos (by or with his workshop, National Gallery, London), Landscape with the Shepherds (Antwerp), and the Rest on the Flight to Egypt (Minneapolis Institute of Arts). There is also a triptych attributed to him called The Penitence of St. Jerome.
There are only five paintings signed by Patinir, but many other works have been attributed to him or his workshop with varying degrees of probability. The ones that are signed read: (Opus) Joachim D. Patinier, the “D” in his signature signifying Dionantensis (“of Dinant”), which may attest to his provenance from this town. The exhibition at the Madrid Prado Museum contained 21 pictures listed as by Patiner or his workshop, and catalogued a further 8 which were not in the exhibition.
Patinir was a pioneer of landscape as an independent genre and he was the first Flemish painter to regard himself primarily as a landscape painter. Patinir was the friend of not only Dürer, but with Quentin Metsys as well, with whom he often collaborated. The Temptation of St Anthony (Prado) was done in collaboration with Metsys, who added the figures to Patiner's landscape. His career was nearly contemporary with that of the other major pioneer of paintings dominated by landscape, Albrecht Altdorfer, who worked in a very different style.
Patinir died in Antwerp in 1524, and Quentin Metsys became the guardian of his children.
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