Rogier van der Weyden facts for kids
Rogier van der Weyden (Dutch: [roːˈɣiːr vɑn dər ˈʋɛi̯də(n)]) or Roger de la Pasture (1399 or 1400 – 18 June 1464) was an early Netherlandish painter whose surviving works consist mainly of religious triptychs, altarpieces, and commissioned single and diptych portraits. He was highly successful in his lifetime; his paintings were exported to Italy and Spain, and he received commissions from, amongst others, Philip the Good, Netherlandish nobility, and foreign princes. By the latter half of the 15th century, he had eclipsed Jan van Eyck in popularity. However his fame lasted only until the 17th century, and largely due to changing taste, he was almost totally forgotten by the mid-18th century. His reputation was slowly rebuilt during the following 200 years; today he is known, with Robert Campin and van Eyck, as the third (by birth date) of the three great Early Flemish artists (Vlaamse Primitieven or "Flemish Primitives"), and widely as the most influential Northern painter of the 15th century.
Very few details of van der Weyden's life are known. The few facts we know come from fragmentary civic records. Yet the attribution of paintings now associated to him is widely accepted, partly on the basis of circumstantial evidence, but primarily on the stylistic evidence of a number of paintings by an innovative master.
Van der Weyden worked from life models, and his observations were closely observed. Yet he often idealised certain elements of his models' facial features, who were typically statuesque, especially in his triptychs. All of his forms are rendered with rich, warm colourisation and a sympathetic expression, while he is known for his expressive pathos and naturalism. His portraits tend to be half length and half profile, and he is as sympathetic here as in his religious triptychs. Van der Weyden used an unusually broad range of colours and varied tones; in his finest work the same tone is not repeated in any other area of the canvas, so even the whites are varied.
Early life and apprenticeship
Due to the loss of archives in 1695 and again in 1940, there are few certain facts of van der Weyden's life. Rogelet de le Pasture (Roger of the Pasture) was born in Tournai (in present-day Belgium) in 1399 or 1400. His parents were Henri de le Pasture and Agnes de Watrélos. The Pasture family had earlier settled in the city of Tournai where Rogier's father worked as a maître-coutelier (knife manufacturer).
In 1426, Rogier married Elisabeth, the daughter of a Brussels shoemaker, Jan Goffaert, and his wife Cathelyne van Stockem. Rogier and Elisabeth had four children: Cornelius (b. 1427) became a Carthusian monk; a daughter, Margaretha, was born in 1432. Before 21 October 1435, the family settled in Brussels where the two younger children were born: Pieter in 1437 and Jan in 1438, who would go on to become a painter and a goldsmith respectively.
From the second of March 1436 onward, he held the title of 'painter to the town of Brussels' (stadsschilder), a very prestigious post because Brussels was at that time the most important residence of the splendid court of the Dukes of Burgundy. On his move to Brussels, Rogier began using the Flemish version of his name: "Rogier van der Weyden".
Little is known about Rogier's training as a painter. The archival sources from Tournai were completely destroyed during World War II, but had been partly transcribed in the 19th and early 20th century. The sources on his early life are confusing and have led to different interpretations by scholars. It is known that the city council of Tournai offered eight pitchers of wine in honour of a certain 'Maistre Rogier de le Pasture' on 17 November 1426.
However, on 5 March of the following year, the records of the painters' guild show a "Rogelet de le Pasture" entered the workshop of Robert Campin together with Jacques Daret. Records show that de le Pasture was already established as a painter. Only five years later, on the first of August 1432, de le Pasture obtained the title of a "Master" (Maistre) painter.
His later entry into apprenticeship might be explained by the fact that during the 1420s the city of Tournai was in crisis and as a result the guilds were not functioning normally. The late apprenticeship may have been a legal formality. Also Jacques Daret was then in his twenties and had been living and working in Campin's household for at least a decade. It is possible that Rogier obtained an academic title (Master) before he became a painter and that he was awarded the wine of honour on the occasion of his graduation. The sophisticated and learned iconographical and compositional qualities of the paintings attributed to him are sometimes used as an argument in favour of this supposition.
The social and intellectual status of Rogier in his later life surpassed that of a mere craftsman at that time. In general, the close stylistic link between the documented works of Jacques Daret and the paintings attributed to Robert Campin and van der Weyden are the main arguments to consider Rogier van der Weyden as a pupil of Campin.
Acclaim in Brussels
The final mention of Rogier de la Pasture in the financial records of Tournai, on 21 October 1435, lists him as demeurrant à Brouxielles ("living in Brussels"). At the same time, the first mention of Rogier de Weyden places him as the official painter of Brussels. It is this fact that puts de la Pasture and van der Weyden as one and the same painter. The post of city painter was created especially for Van der Weyden and was meant to lapse on his death. It was linked to a huge commission to paint four justice scenes for the "Golden Chamber" of Brussels City Hall.
Different properties and investments are documented and witness his material prosperity. The portraits he painted of the Burgundian Dukes, their relatives and courtiers, demonstrate a close relationship with the elite of the Netherlands. Whilst Rogier van der Weyden became increasingly wealthy, he also gave generously in alms to the poor. Further testimony of his philanthropy is van der Weyden's position as administrator of the hospital and charitable foundation Ter Kisten of the Beguine convent in Brussels between 1455 and 1457. The Miraflores Altarpiece was probably commissioned by King Juan II of Castile, since Juan II donated it to the monastery of Miraflores in 1445.
According to some sources, in 1449 Rogier went to Italy, and in the holy year 1450 quite possibly made a pilgrimage to Rome, which brought him in contact with Italian artists and patrons. However, his Italian experiences had no influence on his style. The House of Este and the Medici family commissioned paintings from him. After interventions from both the Duke of Burgundy and the Dauphin of France, the future Louis XI, Rogier van der Weyden was persuaded to accept the request of Bianca Maria Visconti, Duchess of Milan, that her court painter Zanetto Bugatto go to Brussels to become an apprentice in his workshop.
Rogier's international reputation increased progressively. In the 1450s and 1460s humanist scholars such as Nicolas Cusanus, Filarete and Bartolomeo Facio referred to him in superlatives: 'the greatest', 'the most noble' of painters.
Van der Weyden died on 18 June 1464 at Brussels, and was buried in St. Catherine's Chapel of the Cathedral of St. Michael and St. Gudula.
Relatively few works are attributed to van der Weyden's relatively long career, but this does not mean he was un-prolific, more that it is likely that many have been lost. Nonetheless, he had a very well defined style, and the majority of the attributions are generally accepted. Van der Weyden left no self-portraits. However it has been suggested that he painted a self-portrait into one of the Justice panels, which was subsequently copied into the Bern tapestry. A drawing with the inscription "Recueil d'Arras" is also said to depict Van der Weyden.
Many of his most important works were destroyed during the late 17th century. He is first mentioned in historical records in 1427 when, relatively late in life, he studied painting under Campin during 1427–32, and soon outshone his master and, later, even influenced him. After his apprenticeship, he was made master of the Tournai Guild of St Luke. He moved to Brussels in 1435, where he quickly established his reputation for his technical skill and emotional use of line and colour. He completed his Deposition in 1435, which as he had deliberately intended, made him one of the most sought after and influential artists in northern Europe and is still considered his masterpiece.
The fragment of the London National Gallery's The Magdalen Reading has been described by Campbell as "one of the great masterpieces of fifteenth-century art and among Rogier's most important early works". Since the 1970s, this painting has been linked to two small heads in the collection of the Calouste Gulbenkian Museum (Lisbon), of Saint Catherine and of St Joseph. It is now widely believed that these three fragments came from the same large altarpiece depicting the "Virgin and Child with Saints", partly recorded in a later drawing now in Stockholm. At some unknown date before 1811, this altarpiece was carved up into these three fragments.
The lost The Justice of Trajan and Herkinbald, which survived until the end of the 17th century, consisted of four large panels representing the Justice of Trajan and Justice of Herkenbald. These were commissioned by the City of Brussels for the Gulden Camere (Golden Chamber) of the Brussels Town Hall. The first and third panels were signed, and the first dated 1439. All four were finished before 1450. They were destroyed in the French Bombardment of Brussels in 1695, but are known from many surviving descriptions, from a free partial copy in tapestry (Bern, Historisches Museum) and from other free and partial copies in drawing and painting. The paintings probably measured about 4.5 m each, which was an enormous scale for a painting on panel at that time. They served as 'examples of justice' for the aldermen of the city who had to speak justice in this room. The paintings were praised or described by a series of commentators until their destruction, including Dürer (1520), Vasari (1568), Molanus (c. 1570–1580), and Baldinucci (1688).
In his commissioned portraits, van der Weyden typically flattered his sitters. He often idealised or softened their facial features, allowing them a handsomeness or beauty, or interest or intelligence they might not have been blessed with in life. He often enlargened the eyes, better defined the contours of the face, and gave a much stronger jaw than the subject may have possessed in life. Among his most celebrated portraits are those of Philip the Good, his third wife Isabella of Portugal and their son Charles the Bold.
His vigorous, subtle, expressive painting and popular religious conceptions had considerable influence on European painting, not only in France and Germany but also in Italy and in Spain. Panofsky writes how Rogier van der Weyden introduced new religious iconography in his painting; he depicted patrons participating in sacred events and combined half-portraits of the Madonna with portraits of people in prayer to form diptychs. He also reformulated and popularised the subject of Saint Jerome removing the thorn from the lion's paw.
Hans Memling was his greatest follower, although it is not proven that he studied under Rogier. Van der Weyden had also a large influence on the German painter and engraver Martin Schongauer whose prints were distributed all over Europe from the last decades of the 15th century. Indirectly Schongauer's prints helped to disseminate van der Weyden's style. Delenda writes that, with the exception of Petrus Christus, who was a disciple of Jan van Eyck, traces of Rogier van der Weyden's art can be found in all fifteenth-century artists to varying degrees.
Crucifixion Crucifixion with the Virgin and St. John (1457–1464), oil on oak panel, El Escorial, Madrid
In Spanish: Rogier van der Weyden para niños
Rogier van der Weyden Facts for Kids. Kiddle Encyclopedia.