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Gerard David

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Gothic and Early Renaissance
 
 
 
Gerard David
 
 
Gerard David, (born c. 1460, Oudewater, Netherlands—died August 13, 1523, Bruges [now in Belgium]), Flemish painter who was the last great master of the Bruges school.

Very little is known about David’s early life, during which time his work reflects the influence of Jacob Janszoon, Dieric Bouts, and Geertgen Tot Sint Jans. He went to Bruges, presumably from Haarlem, where it is believed he formed his early style under the instruction of A. van Ouwater. He joined the guild of St. Luke at Bruges in 1484 and became dean in 1501.

In his early work, such as Christ Nailed to the Cross (c. 1480) and the Nativity (early 1480s), he followed the Haarlem tradition as represented by Ouwater and Geertgen but already gave evidence of his superior power as a colourist. In Bruges he studied masterpieces by Hubert and Jan van Eyck, Rogier van der Weyden, and Hugo van der Goes, and he came under the influence of Hans Memling. To this period belong the Madonna Triptych (c. 1495–98) and the Enthroned Madonna with Angels (c. 1490–95). But the works on which David’s fame rests most securely are his great altarpieces—the Judgment of Cambyses (two panels, 1498) and the triptych of the Baptism of Christ (c. 1502–07) at Bruges; the Virgin and Child with Saints and Donor (c. 1505); the Annunciation (1506) on two panels; and, above all, the documented altarpiece of the Madonna with Angels and Saints (1509). These are mature works—severe yet richly coloured, showing a masterful handling of light, volume, and space. The Judgment panels are especially notable for being among the earliest Flemish paintings to employ such Italian Renaissance devices as putti and garlands. In Antwerp David became impressed by the life and movement in the work of Quentin Massys, who had introduced a more intimate and more human conception of sacred themes. David’s Deposition (c. 1515) and the Crucifixion (c. 1510–15) were painted under this influence and are remarkable for their dramatic movement.

Authorities disagree about the intent of David’s eclectic, deliberately archaic manner. Some feel that he drew on earlier masters in an effort, doomed by lack of imagination, to revive the fading art of Bruges. Others see David as a progressive artist who sought to base his innovations on the achievements of the founders of the Netherlandish school.

Encyclopædia Britannica
 
 
 

Adoration of the Magi
Alte Pinakothek, Munich




Adoration of the Magi
c. 1500
Musees Royaux des Beaux-Arts, Brussels



The Judgment of Cambyses (left panel)
1498
Groeninge Museum, Bruges



The Judgment of Cambyses (right panel)
1498
Groeninge Museum, Bruges



Christ Nailed to the Cross
c. 1480
National Gallery, London



Deposition
National Gallery, London

 
 
 
 

Altarpiece of St Michael
Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna




Lamentation
University Art Museum, University of California, Santa Barbara



The Nativity
c. 1490
Museum of Fine Arts, Budapest



The Nativity (detail)
c. 1490
Museum of Fine Arts, Budapest



Pilate's Dispute with the High Priest
1480-85
Koninklijk Museum voor Schone Kunsten, Antwerp



The Holy Women and St John at Golgotha
1480-85
Koninklijk Museum voor Schone Kunsten, Antwerp

 
 
 

 
 
 
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