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JACQUES COURTOIS (1621–1676)

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Originally appearing in Volume V07, Page 329 of the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica.
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JACQUES COURTOIS (1621–1676) and GUILLAUME (1628–1699). The two French painters who bore these names are also called by the Italian equivalents Giacomo (or Jacopo) Cortese and Guglielmo Cortese. Each of the brothers is likewise named, from his native province, Le Bourguignon, or Il Borgognone. Jacques Courtois was born at St Hippolyte, near Besancon, in 1621. His father was a painter, and with him Jacques remained studying up to the age of fifteen. Towards 1637 he came to Italy, was hospitably received at Milan by a Burgundian gentleman, and entered, and for three years remained in, the French military service. The sight of some battle-pictures revived his taste for fine art. He went to Bologna, and studied under the friendly tutelage of Guido; thence he proceeded to Rome, where he painted, in the Cistercian monastery, the "Miracle of the Loaves." Here he took a house and after a while entered upon his own characteristic style of art, that of battle-painting, in which he has been accounted to excel all other old masters; his merits were cordially recognized by the celebrated Cerquozzi, named Michelangelo delle Battaglie. He soon rose from penury to ease, and married a painter's beautiful daughter, Maria Vagini; she died after seven years of wedded life. Prince Matthias of Tuscany employed Courtois on some striking works in his villa, Lappeggio, representing with much historical accuracy the prince's military exploits. In Venice also the artist executed for the senator Sagredo some remarkable battle-pieces. In Florence he entered the Society of Jesus, taking the habit in Rome in 1655; it was calumniously -rumoured that he adopted this course in order to escape punishment for having poisoned his wife. As a Jesuit father, Courtois painted many works in churches and monasteries of the society. He lived piously in Rome, and died there of apoplexy on the loth of May 1676 (some accounts say 1670 or 1671). His battle-pieces have movement and fire, warm colouring (now too often blackened), and great command of the brush,—those of moderate dimensions are the more esteemed. They are slight in execution, and tell out best from a distance. Courtois etched with skill twelve battle-subjects of his own composition. The Dantzig painter named in Italy Pandolfo Reschi was his pupil. Guillaume Courtois, born likewise at St Hippolyte, came to Italy with his brother. He went at once to Rome, and entered the school of Pietro da Cortona. He studied also the Bolognese painters and Giovanni Barbieri, and formed for himself a style with very little express mannerism, partly resembling that of Marotta. He painted the " Battle of Joshua " in the Quirinal Gallery, the " Crucifixion of St Andrew " in the church of that saint on Monte Cavallo, various works for the Jesuits, some also in co-operation with his brother. His last production was Christ admonishing Martha. His draughtsmanship is better than that of Jacques, whom he did not, however, rival in spirit, colour or composition. He also executed some etchings. Guillaume Courtois died of gout on the 15th of June 1679. ' COURTRAI (Flemish, Kortryk), an important and once famous town of West Flanders, Belgium, situated on the Lys. Pop. (1904) 34,564. It is now best known for its fine linen, which ranks with that of Larne. The lace factories are also important and employ 5000 hands. But considerable as is the prosperity of modern Courtrai it is but a shadow of what it was in the middle ages during the halcyon period of the Flemish communes. Then Courtrai had a population of 200,000, now it is little over a sixth of that number. On the rrth of July 1302 the great battle of Courtrai (see INFANTRY) was fought outside its walls, when the French army, under the count of Artois, was vanquished by the allied burghers of Bruges, Ypres and Courtrai with tremendous loss. As many as 700 pairs of golden spurs were collected on the field from the bodies of French knights and hung up as an offering in an abbey church of the town, which has long disappeared. There are still, however, some interesting remains of Courtrai's former grandeur. Perhaps the Pont de Broel, with its towers at either end of the bridge, is as characteristic and complete as any monument of ancient Flanders that has come down to modern times. The hotel de ville, which dated from the earlier half of the 16th century, was restored in 1846, and since then statues have also been added to represent those that formerly ornamented the facade. Two richly and elaborately carved chimney-pieces in the hotel de ville merit special notice. The one in the council chamber upstairs dates from 1527 and gives an allegorical representation of the Virtues and the Vices. The other, three-quarters of a century later, contains an heraldic representation of the noble families of the town. The church of St Martin dates from the 15th century, but was practically destroyed in 1862 by a fire caused by lightning. It has been restored. The most important building at Courtrai is the church of Notre Dame, which was begun by Count Baldwin IX. in 1191 and finished in 121 I. The portal and the choir were reconstructed in the 18th century. In the chapel behind the choir is hung one of Van Dyck's masterpieces, " The Erection of the Cross." The chapel of the counts attached to the church dates from 1373, and contained mural paintings of the counts and countesses of Flanders down to the merging of the title in the house of Burgundy. Most if not all of these had become obliterated, but they have now been carefully restored. With questionable judgment portraits have been added of the subsequent holders of the title down to the emperor Francis II. (I. of Austria), the last representative of the houses of Flanders and Burgundy to rule in the Netherlands. Courtrai celebrated the booth anniversary of the battle mentioned above by erecting a monument on the field in 1902, and also by fetes and historical processions that continued for a fortnight. Courtrai, the Cortracum of the Romans, ranked as a town from the 7th century onwards. It was destroyed by the Normans, but was rebuilt in the roth century by Baldwin III. of Flanders, who endowed it with market rights and laid the foundation of its industrial importance by inviting the settlement of foreign weavers. The town was once more burnt, in 1382, by the French after the battle of Roosebeke, but was rebuilt in r385 by Philip the Bold, duke of Burgundy.
End of Article: JACQUES COURTOIS (1621–1676)
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