One of the leading Netherlandish painters of the Bruges School at the end of the 15th Century, Memling painted several renowned religious pieces. While he has not received the favor of historians and today’s critics widely, he was often praised in his own time. Born in Seligenstadt, Germany he studied in Cologne and then in the Netherlands. His works carried on the developing Netherlandish style formed by masters such as his teacher Rogier van der Weyden (1399 – 1464), as well as Jan van Eyck (1385 – 1441). His works were influenced greatly by the Flemish style and artists such as, Dieric Bouts the Elder (1415 – 1475) and Hugo van der Goes (1436 – 1482)
From Weyden he received an influence of strong conceptual depictions and expressions in religious works. A work that can be considered his best known masterpiece, is the triptych The Last Judgment, painted for the massive brick church, Basilica of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary in the Polish city of Gdansk. The center panel is an epic representation of Jesus and the Archangel Michael deciding the fate of souls, with the left panel consumed with those in the fiery pit of hell, and the right with Saint Peter at the entry to heaven. His more subtle, but equally masterful triptychs were The Donne Triptych and also the Adoration of the Magi
His patrons included the Hospital of Saint John in Bruges, wealthy merchants and burghers, as well as agents form the Medici family. One representative of the Medicis, Tommaso Portinari commissioned an important altarpiece from Memling, and several portraits, one of which is in the Uffizi Gallery. The altarpiece was Scenes from the Passion of Christ, a sweeping, almost bird’s eye, panoramic of Jerusalem, with Christ centered and several active scenes around the city.
His other works at the Uffizi Gallery include his decorative Madonna and Child with two Angels, a Portrait of Saint Benedict from the Hospital of Santa Maria Nuova, his gracious, Portrait of Mater Dolorosa and two additional portraits. He had a large body of work, including nearly 20 altarpieces (with multiple panels), 15 depictions of the Virgin and Child, 20 Representations of Saints and other religious subjects, with over 30 portraits.
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