Memling, Hans ca. 1430/1440–1494 Flemish Painter

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Memling, Hans
ca. 1430/1440–1494
Flemish painter

Hans Memling (also Memlinc) was the first Flemish* painter to set portraits of individuals against landscape backgrounds. His skill in reproducing the real world made him a much-sought-after portraitist. Many of Memling's works have religious themes, and the Virgin and Child was one of his favorite subjects.

Born near Frankfurt, Germany, Memling went to Flanders for instruction in painting, and he may have completed his artistic training at the workshop of Rogier van der Weyden in Brussels. In 1465 Memling became a citizen of the Flemish city of Bruges, where he remained for the rest of his life. The artist worked mainly for wealthy merchants, foreigners, and the local clergy of Bruges.

Among Memling's better-known works is the St. John Altarpiece (1479), painted for a hospital chapel in Bruges. This three-paneled work contains scenes of the Virgin Mary, the infant Christ, and various saints. The warm-toned colors that Memling used in the altarpiece show the influence of Flemish artist Jan van Eyck. However, the slender figures were inspired by van der Weyden. Memling's paintings reveal great technical skill, but some critics have said that the artist lacks the expressiveness and insight of van der Weyden.

(See alsoArt in the Netherlands. )

* Flemish

relating to Flanders, a region along the coasts of present-day Belgium, France, and the Netherlands