WEYDEN, Rogier van der
(b. 1400, Tournai, d. 1464, Bruxelles)
Portrait of Philip the Goodafter 1450
Oil on wood, 31 x 23 cm
Musée des Beaux-Arts, Dijon
The Duchy of Burgundy had its heyday under Philip the Bold, John the Fearless, Philip the Good and Charles the Bold. Between them, they acquired countless new territories, through a cunning combination of astute marriages, timely purchase and the barely legal diversion of other people's inheritances. Rogier van der Weyden received many commissions from the Court of Burgundy. He excelled in portrait. He was not a realist, he did not seek to capture the particular characteristic of his model, but instead tried to create an ideal image. This approach was very popular with his contemporaries, and brought him considerable success in this genre. He was sought after by the grandest aristocrats and prelates, as well as by the wealthy bourgeoisie, who wanted him to record and embellish their features for posterity.
Several writers have drawn attention to Van der Weyden's treatment of his sitter's hands, which he almost always painted joined together, discreetly, so as not to distract from their faces, yet quietly present, always serving to underline their serenity.
This painting is one of the several versions and copies of the portrait of Philip the Good executed by Rogier van der Weyden and his workshop.