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Rogier van der Weyden

Roger Van Der Weyden The Younger

Hendrick Hondius I. Roger van der Weyden the Younger from the series Pictorum Aliquot Celebrium, about 1610. The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Harris Brisbane Dick Fund, 1917.

Also known as
Roger van der Weyden, Rogier Van der Weyden, Rogier de la Pasture, Rogier van der Weyden, (Rogier de la Pasture), Roger Van der Weyden
Date of birth
Date of death

In his lifetime, Rogier van der Weyden established an international reputation and standardized formats of religious painting that would remain popular long after his death. Van der Weyden moved from his native Tournai, in present-day Belgium, to Brussels in 1436. There he became the city painter while also completing commissions for foreign dignitaries, including Phillip the Good, duke of Burgundy, and John II, King of Castile. He painted religious altarpieces for royal patrons that demonstrate his ability to tailor his work to his clients’ demands. Van der Weyden’s large workshop produced, in particular, two-panel paintings—called diptychs—intended for private devotion, as well as standardized compositions of the Virgin and Child in domestic settings. Other artists emulated these painting types well into the 16th century.

The Art Institute’s Portrait of Jean Gros exemplifies the elegance and piety that Van der Weyden could achieve in his diptychs for noble patrons. The painting would originally have been hinged with a second image of the Virgin Mary and Christ, at which the subject’s gaze would be directed. The compositional formula—the figure turned at a three-quarter angle to the picture plane, with hands folded in prayer—relies heavily on geometric form, broad illumination, and elongated features to achieve a sense of piety while emphasizing Gros’s aristocracy. 

His Virgin and Child type, typically independent of an accompanying portrait, achieved great popularity for its humanizing characterization of the Christ child. By emphasizing the nurturing side of the Virgin and alluding to both depicted and actual space through the cushion resting on the lower edge of the frame, Van der Weyden brings the ethereal into the terrestrial realm.

One of the most influential painters of the 15th century, Van der Weyden’s impact extended across Europe and was particularly important for Spanish, Dutch, and Flemish artists in the following two centuries.

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