( Originally Published 1955 )
Flemish painter born in Haarlem, whose style combines features of both van Eyck and van der Weyden. He transcribed the visual symbols of van der Weyden into the pictorial elements of van Eyck, losing the fervor of the former and never achieving the power of the latter. Although he was obviously capable of emotional intensity, he was incapable of translating it into dramatic action, and his figures in the most violent of situations remain placid and inexpressive. He was, however. an excellent painter, capable and sincere, with a fine feeling for landscape and a brilliant palette. Very little is known of his early years and nothing of his studies, though he may have been a pupil of Rogier van der Weyden. He came to Louvain c.1448, married a young girl of a wealthy family, settled there, and became town painter c.1468. His earliest dated painting, the Portrait of a Man (1462, London). is already a work of his maturity. On stylistic grounds the works showing the strongest Rogierian influence are placed in his early period (1440-57) and include the Life of the Virgin Triptych (Granada), which shows a strong Eyckian flavor, the Altar of the Virgin (Prado), the Entombment (London), the Deposition (Louvre), the Calvary (Berlin), and the St. John at Patmos (Rotterdam). His mature style (1457-75) includes the larger projects for Louvain-the Martyrdom of St. Erasmus (c.1458, St. Pierre, Louvain) ; the great Altar of the Last Supper (1464-67, St. Pierre, Louvain), done originally for the Collegiate Church; and the commission for the two large compositions for the Hotel de Ville (1468). Of this project the Last Judgment no longer exists; of the second or Justice portion, he finished only two scenes of the Legend of Otho (1470-75, Brussels). His last work was the Martyrdom of St. Hyppolitus (St. Sauveur, Bruges) for which Hugo van der Goes finished the wings.