(b. 1577, Brugge, d. 1637, Brugge)

Exterior view

Sint-Carolus-Borromeuskerk, Antwerp

Roman Catholicism, political opposition to Spain, and the painter Peter Paul Rubens were all responsible for the astonishing full-bodied character of Flemish Baroque. Rubens's friends Jacques Francart and Pieter Huyssens created an influential northern centre for vigorous expansive Baroque architecture to which France, England, and Germany turned. Francart's Beguinage Church (1629) at Mechelen and Huyssens's St. Charles Borromeo (1615) at Antwerp set the stage for the more fully developed Baroque at St. Michel (1650) at Leuven, by Willem Hesius, as well as at the Abbey of Averbode (1664), by Jan van den Eynde.

The Jesuit church in Antwerp, first dedicated to St Ignatius, and later to St Charles Borromeo, was first designed by Father Franciscus Aguilonius (1566-1617), rector of the Antwerp monastery. After his death Jacques Francart continued the work in an Italian and classical style of architecture. After many design variations, finally a basilica-type church was built with a traditional nave arcade with galleries above.

The façade, divided by pilasters is, however, recognizably derived from the Gesù in Rome. It is considerably enriched by sculpture, which ensures a plastic liveliness and creates its own distinct contrast between light and shade. This sculpture was executed by Johannes van Mildert from designs by Rubens, who was also responsible for the decoration of the ceilings of the side aisles and galleries with thirty-nine large paintings.