Rogier van der Weyden—sometimes called Roger of Bruges, also called " The
Elder," to distinguish him from his son—was born in Tournai towards the close of
the fourteenth century.
Rogier van der Weyden—sometimes
called Roger of Bruges, also called " The Elder," to distinguish him from his
son—was born in Tournai towards the close of the fourteenth century. Though it
was formerly stated, it is now by some writers denied, that Rogier studied under
Jan van Eyck. It is known that in 1432 he took the freedom of the Guild of St.
Luke at Tournai; and in 1436 we find him appointed Sfadscilder (town-painter) in
Brussels. About the same time he painted for the town-hall, four kirge works,
which, like many others executed by him in early life, have entirely perished.
They represented instances of remarkable acts of justice. In 1443, Rogier
painted his master-piece, an altar-piece for the Hospital which Chancellor
Rollin had just founded at Beaune. It represents the Last Judgment: in the
centre is Christ; and below, the Archangel Michael weighing the souls of men in
a balance; on the inside wings are, nearer the centre, the Apostles and others
in adoration, and at the ends, on either side, the Blessed ascending to Heaven
and the Condemned being precipitated to Hell. On the exterior are, in
monochrome, St. Sebastian and St. Anthony and the portraits of Rollin and his
wife Gnignonne de Salin; above is an Annunciation.
In 1449 Rogier went to Italy, where he remained but a short time. He was at Rome
for the celebration of the jubilee in 1450, but returned in the same year to
Germany, without having acquired anything of an Italian style. He executed many
important works between this time and his death, which occurred at Brussels on
the i6th of June, 1464. He was buried " under a blue stone, before St.
Catherine's altar" in the church of St. Gudule.
Of other works by Rogier, we may mention: in the Munich gallery, an Adoration of
the Kings, which contains a portrait of Charles the Bold of Burgundy, and a St.
Luke painting the Virgin, long attributed to Jan van Eyck; an altar-piece
representing three scenes from the Life of John the Baptist, in the Berlin
Museum: and lastly an Entombment of Christ in the National Gallery (No. 664) a
not very good specimen of this master. "Van der Weyden," says Van Mander,
"greatly reformed the Flemish style of design; he was a great master of
expression, and though his outline is generally harder than Van Kyck's, his
heads are often much softer in their character." Rogier van der Weyden had the
honour of numbering among his pupils, the Fleming Hans Memling and the Germans,
Martin Schongauer and Friedrich Herlen.
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