Gerard David (c. 1460 – 13 August 1523) was an Early Netherlandish painter
and manuscript illuminator
known for his brilliant use of color. Only a bare outline of his life survives, although some facts are known. He may have been the Meester gheraet van brugghe who became a master of the Antwerp guild in 1515. He was very successful in his lifetime and probably ran two workshops, in Antwerp and Bruges.
Like many painters of his period, his reputation diminished in the 17th century until he was rediscovered in the 19th century.
He was born in Oudewater
, now located in the province of Utrecht
. His year of birth is approximated as c. 1450–1460 on the basis that he looks to be around 50 years in the 1509 self-portrait found in his ''Virgin among the Virgins''.
He is believed to have spent time in Italy from 1470 to 1480, where he was influenced by the Italian Renaissance
He formed his early style under Albert van Oudewater
, and moved to Bruges in 1483, where he joined the Guild of Saint Luke
Upon the death of Hans Memling
in 1494, David became Bruges' leading painter. He became dean of the guild in 1501, and in 1496 married Cornelia Cnoop
, daughter of the dean of the goldsmith
s' guild. David was one of the town's leading citizens.
[Additional documents were presented by Hans J. van Miegroet, "New Documents Concerning Gerard David" ''The Art Bulletin'' 69.1 (March 1987:33–44).]
served his apprenticeship with David, but they came into dispute around 1519 over a number of paintings and drawings Benson had collected from other artists. Because of a large debt owed to him by Benson,
David had refused to return the material. Benson pursued the matter legally and won, leading to David serving time in prison.
He died on 13 August 1523 and was buried in the Church of Our Lady
David's surviving work mainly consists of religious scenes. They are characterised by an atmospheric, timeless, and almost dream like serenity, achieved through soft, warm and subtle colourisation, and masterful handling of light and shadow.
[Ridderbo et al., 157]
He is innovative in his recasting of traditional themes and in his approach to landscape, which was then only an emerging genre in northern European painting.
His ability with landscape can be seen in the detailed foliage of his ''Triptych of the Baptism'' and the forest scene in the New York ''Nativity''.
Although many of the art historians of the early 20th century, including Erwin Panofsky
and Max Jakob Friedländer
saw him as a painter who did little but distill the style of others and painted in an archaic and unimaginative style. However today most view him as a master colourist, and a painter who according to the Metropolitan Museum of Art
, worked in a "progressive, even enterprising, mode, casting off his late medieval heritage and proceeding with a certain purity of vision in an age of transition."
[Gerard David (born about 1455, died 1523)]
. Metropolitan Museum of Art. Retrieved 15 February 2013
In his early work David followed Haarlem artists such as Dirk Bouts
, Albert van Oudewater,
and Geertgen tot Sint Jans
, though he had already given evidence of superior power as a colourist. To this early period belong the ''St John'' of the Richard von Kaufmann
collection in Berlin and the Salting
's ''St Jerome''. In Bruges came directly under the influence of Memling, the master whom he followed most closely. It was from him that David acquired a solemnity of treatment, greater realism in the rendering of human form, and an orderly arrangement of figures.
He visited Antwerp in 1515 and was impressed with the work of Quentin Matsys
who had introduced a greater vitality and intimacy in the conception of sacred themes. Together they worked to preserve the traditions of the Bruges school against influences of the Italian Renaissance.
The works for which David is best known are the altarpiece
s painted before his visit to Antwerp: the ''Marriage of St Catherine'' at the National Gallery, London; the triptych of the ''Madonna Enthroned and Saints'' of the Brignole-Sale collection
; the ''Annunciation'' of the Sigmaringen collection; and above all, the ''Madonna with Angels and Saints'' (usually titled ''The Virgin among the Virgins''), which he donated to the Carmelite
Nuns of Sion at Bruges, and which is now in the Rouen
Only a few of his works have remained in Bruges: ''The Judgment of Cambyses
'', ''The Flaying of Sisamnes'' and the ''Baptism of Christ'' in the Groeningemuseum
, and the ''Transfiguration'' in the Church of Our Lady.
The rest were scattered around the world, and to this may be due the oblivion into which his very name had fallen; this, and the fact that, some believed that for all the beauty and the soulfulness of his work, he had nothing innovative to add to the history of art.
Even in his best work he had only given newer variations of the art of his predecessors and contemporaries. His rank among the masters was renewed, however, when a number of his paintings were assembled at the seminal 1902 Gruuthusemuseum
, Bruges exhibition of early Flemish painters
He also worked closely with the leading manuscript illuminator
s of the day, and seems to have been brought in to paint specific important miniatures himself, among them a ''Virgin among the Virgins'' in the Morgan Library
, a ''Virgin and Child on a Crescent Moon'' in the ''Rothschild Prayerbook
and a portrait of the Emperor Maximilian in Vienna. Several of his drawings also survive, and elements from these appear in the works of other painters and illuminators for several decades after his death.
Less known but also of high quality are the works of David found in Spanish public collections. The Prado Museum
in Madrid owns a table "Rest on the flight into Egypt" resembling the one in the Royal Museum of Fine Arts in Antwerp. The Prado also holds another two Works by the painter, one of them only attributed. Another one of the Spanish capital's Museums, The Thyssen-Bornemisza
holds a "Crucifixión" from 1475.
At the time of David's death, the glory of Bruges and its painters was on the wane: Antwerp had become the leader in art as well as in political and commercial importance. Of David's pupils in Bruges, only Adriaen Isenbrandt
, and Ambrosius Benson
achieved importance. Among other Flemish painters, Joachim Patinir
and Jan Mabuse
were to some degree influenced by him.
David's name had been completely forgotten when in 1866 William Henry James Weale
discovered documents about him in the archives of Bruges; these brought to light the main facts of the painter's life and led to the reconstruction of David's artistic personality,
beginning with the recognition of David's only documented work, the ''Virgin Among Virgins'' at Rouen.
[Weale, ''Gerard David, Painter and Illuminator'' 1895; the ''Virgo inter Virgines'' appears in a 1527 inventory of the Carmelite convent of Sion at Bruges.]
File:Gerard David - The Nativity WGA.jpg|''The Nativity'', c. 1490, Szépmûvészeti Múzeum
File:Gerard David - Lamentation - Google Art Project.jpg|''Lamentation'', c 1495–1500. National Gallery, London, UK
File:Gerard David - The Judgment of Cambyses, panel 1 - The capture of the corrupt judge Sisamnes.jpg|''The Judgment of Cambyses'', 1498. Groeninge Museum, Bruges. Center panel
File:Gerard David - Triptych of Jean des Trompes center panel WGA.jpg|''Triptych of Jean des Trompes'', 1505. Groeninge Museum, Bruges. Center panel
File:Gerard David - Triptych of Jean des Trompes side panels WGA.jpg|''Triptych of Jean des Trompes'', 1505. Groeninge Museum, Bruges. Side panels
File:Gerard David - The Mystic Marriage of St Catherine WGA.jpg|''The Mystic Marriage of St Catherine'' 1505–1510, National Gallery, London
File:Gerard David - Altarpiece of St Michael WGA.jpg|''Altarpiece of St Michael'' c. 1510. Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna
File:Gerard David - Virgin and Child with Four Angels - WGA6036.jpg|''Virgin and Child with Four Angels'', c. 1510–1515. Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York
File:Salvator_Mundi,_c._1500,_Gerard_David,_Philadelphia_Museum_of_Art.jpg|''Salvator Mundi'', c. 1500, Philadelphia Museum of Art
File:Gerard David - Madonna and Child with the Milk Soup - Google Art Project.jpg|''Madonna and Child with the Milk Soup'', c. 1510–1515.
File:Gerard David.Transfiguration of Christ02.jpg|''Transfiguration of Christ''. Church of Our Lady, Bruges
File:Gerard David - Adoration of the Kings - Google Art Project.jpg|''Adoration of the Kings'', 1515–1523, National Gallery, London
File:Rust tijdens de vlucht naar Egypte, Gerard David, 16de eeuw, Koninklijk Museum voor Schone Kunsten Antwerpen, 47.jpg|''Rest on the Flight into Egypt'', Gerard David, 16th century, Royal Museum of Fine Arts Antwerp
File:Joos van der Burch and Saint Simon of Jerusalem, Follower of Gerard David, Netherlandish, c. 1493, oil on oak panel - Fogg Art Museum, Harvard University - DSC01016.jpg|''Joos van der Burch and Saint Simon of Jerusalem'', c. 1493, Fogg Museum at the Harvard Art Museums
* Ainsworth, Maryan Wynn. Gerard David: Purity of Vision in an Age of Transition
'. NY: Metropolitan Museum of Art
* Ainsworth, Maryan Wynn; Christiansen, Keith. ''From Van Eyck to Bruegel: Early Netherlandish Paintings in the Metropolitan Museum of Art''. NY: Metropolitan Museum of Art
* Campbell, Lorne
. ''The Fifteenth-Century Netherlandish Paintings''. London: National Gallery, 1998.
* Harbison, Craig
. "The Art of the Northern Renaissance". London: Laurence King Publishing, 1995.
* Nash, Susie. ''Northern Renaissance art''. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2008.
* Ridderbos, Bernhard; Van Buren, Anne; Van Veen, Henk. ''Early Netherlandish Paintings: Rediscovery, Reception and Research''. Amsterdam: Amsterdam University Press, 2005.
* Gerard David | The Metropolitan Museum of Art''Fifteenth- to eighteenth-century European paintings: France, Central Europe, the Netherlands, Spain, and Great Britain''
a collection catalog fully available online as a PDF, which contains material on Gerard David (cat. no. 20-22)''Gerard David : purity of vision in an age of transition''
a collection catalog fully available online as a PDFGerard David Foundation (Dutch)
Category:Dutch Renaissance painters
Category:Early Netherlandish painters
Category:Members of the Bruges Guild of Saint Luke
Category:People from Oudewater