Goes, Hugo van der
Hugo van der Goes is the greatest Netherlandish painter of the second half of the 15th century.
Nothing is known of his life before 1467, when he became a master in the painters' guild at Ghent. Hugo van der Goes had numerous commissions from the town of Ghent for work of a temporary nature such as processional banners, and in 1475 he became dean of the painters' guild. In the same year he entered a priory near Brussels as a lay-brother, but he continued to paint and also to travel. In 1481 he suffered a mental breakdown and although he recovered, died the following year.
No paintings by Hugo van der Goes are signed and his only securely documented work is his masterpiece, a large triptych of the Nativity known as the Portinari Alterpiece. This was commissioned by Tommaso Portinari, the representative of the House of Medici in Bruges, for the church of the Hospital of Sta Maria Nuova in Florence, and it exercised a strong influence on Italian painters with its masterful handling of the oil painting technique. There is a great variety of surface ornament and detail, but this is combined with lucid organization of the figure groups and a convincing sense of spatial depth.
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