Thursday, January 20, 2011

Rogier Van der Weyden

Lady Wearing a Gauze Headdress
c. 1435
18 5/16 x 12 1/2 in. (47 x 32 cm)
Gemäldegalerie, Berlin

Weyden, Rogier van der - Netherlandish painter. He is believed to be identical with the 'Rogelet de la Pasture' who was a pupil of Robert Campin with Jacques Darer in Tournai during 1427-32 ('Rogier van der Weyden' and 'Rogelet de la Pasture' being, respectively, Flemish and French for 'Roger of the Meadow'). None of Campin's work is known. Rogier van der Weyden's work and the only documented altarpiece by Daret, however, bear a stylistic kinship with works ascribed to the so called Master of Flemalle and this has led scholars to propose that the Master of Flemalle is actually Campin and that this similarity is of the sort that one would expect from pupils and their master in the kind of workshop tradition that prevailed in the 15th century Netherlands.

Following the completion of his apprenticeship, Rogier moved to Brussels and, at some time before 1436, was appointed Painter to the City. He was by now a wealthy man with an established reputation. None of his works are signed or documented, but van Mander's statement that the Deposition (1435, for the church of Notre Dame du Dehors, Louvain, now in the Prado, Madrid) is his, has been generally accepted and around this work has been assembled the rest of the closely unified oeuvre. The Deposition exemplifies the elements that made Rogier's style more popular and influential than even Jan van Eyck's in the second half of the century; where van Eyck's art aims for a realism achieved through the dispassionate recording of the objective world, Rogier attempts to evoke a deep emotion expressed through the use of rhythmic line and rich colour.
Some of the most influential men of the time commissioned work from Rogier. In c1446 he was commissioned by Chancellor Rolin to paint a vast Last Judgement altarpiece for the chapel of the Hotel Dieu, a hospice he had founded at Beaune (still in situ). In 1450 he went to Rome and possibly Florence. His Madonna with Four Saints (Frankfurt Stadelsches Kunstinstitut) may have been painted in Florence for the Medici, as the picture bears the arms of Florence and includes Cosmas and Darman, the Medici patron saints, and SS John the Baptist and Peter, the name saints of Cosimo de'Medici's two sons. Its composition follows the Florentine sacra conversazione type. Also in Florence he painted an Entombment (originally in the Medici Collection, now in the Uffizi), which indicates a close study of the work of Fra Angelico.
Some time after Rogier's return to the Netherlands, Peter Bladelin, Duke Philip's controller of finances, commissioned the Nativity Triptych (cl452, BerlinDahlen, Staatliche Museen) and in c1453, Jean Chevrot, the Bishop of Tournai, commissioned the Seven Sacraments Altarpiece (Antwerp). Other important works include the Braque Triptych (cl452, Paris, Louvre) and the St. Colomba Altarpiece (c 1462, Munich, Alte Pinakothek). He was also a fine portraitist (e.g. Charles the Bold, Antwerp, Koninklijk Museum voor Schone Kunsten). His most important pupil was Memling

- From The Bulfinch Guide to Art History 

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