(b. ca. 1538, Brugge, d. 1613, Brugge)


Antoon (Anthuenis) Claeissens (Claeis; Claeiss; Claeissins), part of a Flemish family of painters. Pieter Claeissens the Elder (1499-1576) and his three sons Gillis Claeissens (before 1536-1605), Pieter Claeissens [Claeissz.] the Younger (1536-1623) and Antoon] Claeissens were all active in Bruges, but little of their life and work has been documented. Pieter Claeissens the Elder was a pupil of Adrian Becaert in 1516; in 1530 he became a master in the Bruges Guild of St Luke, where he later held various official posts. He was also enrolled (1544) as an illuminator in the craft guild. In 1572 he was commissioned to paint a Resurrection for Bruges Cathedral (in situ). He also executed a number of portraits.

The Claeissens family monopolized official painting in Bruges with their enormous output in the late 16th century. The most important members of the family are Pieter the Elder (1499/1500-1576), Pieter the Younger and his brother Antoon. Both sons were city painters at one time or another. All three painted in the same, rather wooden and stereotyped manner. They continued the local tradition that derived from the style of Benson and Isenbrant but their paintings were executed in a more modern way; more adapted to Pourbus. Few works can be attributed with any certainty to the father of the clan. In addition to paintings with patron saints and donors' portraits, the Groeninge Museum in Bruges owns several interesting historical and political allegories painted by the Claeissens sons. The genre proved extremely popular from the sixteenth century onwards, as it allowed rulers to imbue important political occasions with a mythical aura.