Photography by Hugo Maertens. Hans Memling Flemish, ca. Photography by Graham S. Netherlandish School Jan Mostaert? Netherlandish, ca. Workshop of Hugo van der Goes Flemish, ca. Photography by Steven H. Miniature from a Book of Hours, Belgium, probably Ghent, ca. Glazier Collection, Book of Hours in Latin and French. Northern France and Flanders, ca. Memling was one of the first painters to add a background to his portraits.
The panoramic view enhances the contrast between close up and far away, creating a strong spatial suggestion.
Furthermore, Memling enhanced this effect by painting the man's hand on the bottom-right corner, creating the suggestion that there was room between the portrayed model and the background. This way he also created the impression of depth in the foreground. Today, the frame of the Antwerp portrait is lost, but it is highly likely that the representation originally continued on that frame. Furthermore, Memling painted the horizon in the centre of the Antwerp painting. This way he divided the surface in half: the detailed head is represented in front of the monotonous, blue sky, while the austere black clothes are placed in front of the carefully elaborated landscape, creating a well-balanced though never dull composition.
Many speculations exist about the man's identity. The coin with the image in his hand, combined with the laurel leaves and the palm tree in the landscape, recently led to the suggestion that it concerns the Florentine Bernardo Bembo. This humanist had an important coin collection and he used laurel leaves and a palm tree as his emblem.
In , he stayed in Bruges for some time, so he had the occasion to order a portrait from Memling. This very acceptable identification shows that Memling painted portraits of Italians who visited Bruges. Galleria degli Uffizi, Florence. In the 's Memling also received other signifcant commisisons, apart from the portraits. One of these orders the only one known from historical documents was the painting of two wings for an altarpiece, commissioned by the Librarians' Guild.
Unfortunately, these wings, painted around , are lost. Also in , Memling painted his only two works that were both dated and signed, the St.
John's Retable and the Triptych of Jan Floreins. Both altarpieces were made for clergymen at St. John's Hospital.
In the same per iod, Memling painted a triptych for Adriaan Reins , also a clergyman at St. Later, in , he received an order to paint St.
Ursula's Shrine. More than once there have been suspicions that Memling had a special relationship with St. John's Hospital, due to the large number of works that the hospital commissioned from him. However, there is no evidence of such a relationship. We do not know much about this period in Memling's life.
What we do know is that it was less prosperous for him than previous years. One of the reasons was that he was no longer on the list of Maximilian, Austria's financiers. It was a hard time for many painters and likely that Memling had less work, too.
This had to do with the economic recession in Bruges from onwards. Luke Guild archives. Michel Sittow was probably one of Memling's apprentices in this period. All of this suggests that Memling had enough work to hire several people. Hans Memling, reverse wings of the Moreel triptych with St. John the Baptist and St. George, , Groeninge museum, Bruges.
So once again, except for the scarce documents referred to above, Memling's paintings are the only real source of information about the artist's comings and goings in this period. One of the most important works commissioned from him in the 's was the Triptych of Jan Moreel and his family Groeninge Museum, Bruges.
The Moreel family ordered this altarpiece in , when they were assigned two graves in St. Jacob's Church and received the authorisation to donate an altar. Memling presumably made this painting along with one of his apprentices. In the figures we can clearly recognise Memling's hand, although his style in the donors' portraits had become a little looser than before. But, the elaboration of the landscape looks more systematic, which indicates that these parts were painted by one of his apprentices. By the time Memling had completed this altarpiece, he had probably already accepted his last three big orders: St.
Ursula's Shrine St. John's Hospital , the large Retablo Mayor for the church at St. John's Retable in Bruges, belong amongst the largest works that Memling made. It is the only work in Memling's oeuvre with double wings. This means that the altarpiece includes two pairs of wings, and so it can be shown in three different ways. Vitalis, St. Agricola, St. Prudentius and St. As the monastery was dedicated to St.
Mary Queen of Heaven, Mary's coronation was probably also depicted. Although the structure of the altarpiece is not clear, it must have been enormous. The panels in Antwerp are already cm high and together they are over cm wide.
Hans Memling Home. Huntington from the Kann Collection. Mary has in both cases long, wavy brown hair, separated in the middle, and holds her head slightly tilted. Exhibition at the Uffizi Gallery for the five Chicago: University of Chicago Press, This suggests that both artists worked together, which the Italian Giorgio Vasari confirmed in his Vite , a biography of several artists. The Hague, , p.
So, considering its size, it is most probable that Memling worked with his apprentices. When Memling died on 11 August , he was an acclaimed artist at home and abroad. However, the fact that he was buried in the churchyard at St Gilles' Church shows that he did not belong to the wealthy elite.
His style, compositions and use of colours were followed by many artists. Some of his direct followers were anonymous artists, referred to by the substitute names of 'Master of St. Ursula's Legend' and 'Master of St. Lucy's Legend'. Considering Memling's influence on these artists, we can definitely say that Memling played a determining role in the development of Bruges painting. Maryan W. De schildertechniek van Memlings portretten' , in: tent. Till-Holger Borchert, 'Le dessin sous-jacent chez Memling' , in: tent.
Hans Memling au Louvre, Parijs Till-Holger Borchert, tent. Portretten van Hans Memling , Brugge Dirk de Vos ed. Hans Memling , Brugge Maximiliaan P. Martens ed , tent. Brugge en de Renaissance, Van Memling tot Pourbus , 2 dln. Rohlman, Auftragskunst und Sammlerbild. Overview online publications.