Friday, August 9, 2013

Memling, Hans

Madonna and Child Enthroned with Saints (central panel of St. John Altarpiece, with Mystical Marriage of St. Catherine)
oil on oak panel
173.6 x 173.7 cm
Memlingmuseum, chapel in St. John's hospital (Sint-Janshospitaal), Bruges, Belgium

The symbolic gesture whereby Jesus places a wedding ring on the finger of St Catherine of Alexandria caused this altarpiece to be identified for many years as the Mystical Marriage of St. Catherine. Nevertheless, it is clearly dedicated to the Virgin and the two St Johns. This panel focuses upon a Sacra Conversazione, a gathering of saints around the Virgin. This Altarpiece is dedicated to the patron saints of St. John's Hospital.

Hans Memling, also spelled Memlinc, (c.1430 - 1494) was a German-born leading Flemish painter of the Bruges school (Jan van Eyck is the famed founder of the  school) painting both portraits and large religious works. He moved to Flanders and worked in the tradition of Early Netherlandish painting. He is one of the leading artists from the 1460s until the end of his life. His reputation was not confined to Flanders, but spreaded to Italy, France and England. Memling's work suited the taste of that age in any European country.

His portraits of nobles were more characteristic, and probably more remarkable as likenesses, than any that Memling s contemporaries could produce. He was very successful in Bruges: it is known that he was listed among the wealthiest citizens on the city tax accounts.
Memling died on August 11, 1494 and left behind a considerable property. Recording his death, the notary of Bruges described him as "the most skillful painter in the whole of Christendom."