December 31, 2009

The Art of Roger van der Weyden

Roger van der Weyden (1400 – 1464) was one of the leading Flemish Old Masters of the Northern Renaissance during the 15th century, contemporary to Jan van Eyck. He was best known for his colorful triptychs and diptychs panel paintings, mainly on religious subjects.

(Weyden, Roger van der. The Deposition (Descent from the Cross). c. 1435. oil on panel. Museo del Prado, Madrid.)

Born in Tournai, Belgium in 1400. His father worked as a knife manufacturer. Little is known about Weyden's life. Although, it is believed he was also known as 'Rogelet de la Pasture.'

(Weyden, Roger van der. Isabella of Portugual. c. 1500. oil on panel. J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles.)

Weyden completed an apprenticeship under Robert Campin in Tournai, Holland. Records show that Rogelet de la Pasture obtained his title of Master Painter in 1427.

(Weyden, Roger van der. Portrait of a Lady. c. 1455. oil on panel. National Gallery of Art, Washington DC.)

Following his apprenticeship, he moved to Brussels and was appointed painter to the city around 1436. He did not sign or document his works, so it is difficult to tell how many paintings he produced but, it is clear that by 1436 he was already quite wealthy and obviously successful.

(Weyden, Roger van der. The Dream of Pope Sergius. c. 1437-40. oil on panel. J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles.)

The Deposition painted in 1435 is Weyden's most famous work. It is characterized by realism, rich color and a dramatic style. The action has the quality of a relief set against a flat background, and conveys the deep spirituality and empathy. The pose of the swooning Mary repeats that of the dead Christ. Groups of three figures balance either side, while John the Baptist's read robe counters Joseph of Arimathea's gold brocade.

(Weyden, Roger van der. Annunciation Triptych (Center Panel). c. 1440. oil on panel. Louvre, Paris.)

Weyden was very famous during his lifetime although after his death in 1464 his name gradually faded from view. It was only in the 20th century that his reputation regained its 15th century status and his work is much appreciated here!

Enjoy! :)

Reference: Encyclopedia of Irish and World Art