Thursday, January 20, 2011

Gerard David

The Crucifixion
c. 1515
55 x 39 in (141 x 100 cm)
Gemaeldegalerie, Berlin

David, Gerard - Netherlandish painter. He was the leading painter in Bruges following the death of Memling. Born in Oudewater, he was admitted to the painter's guild in Bruges in 1484. His works are mostly religious subjects, imbued with a gentle piety showing the influence of the earlier Netherlandish masters, such as Jan van Eyck and Hugo van der Goes, but now inflected with an Italianate influence which is manifested in a new formal monumentality. Among his more important works is the pair commissioned by the town of Bruges, The Judgment of Cambyses andThe Flaying of Sisamnes (1498, Bruges, Groeningemuseum). These are gruesome, admonitory paintings, warning of the retribution ensuing from corruption and injustice, subjects perhaps not best suited to David's placid style. More appropriate were the devotional sacra conversazione themes, exemplified by The Virgin and Child with Saints and Donor (c. 1505/09, London, National Gallery). By the time of David, Bruges was beginning to lose both its economic and artistic primacy to Antwerp and David is generally regarded as coming at the end of a tradition, though he did number among his followers artists of the calibre of Adriaen Ysenbrandt and Ambrosius Benson.

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