GERHAERT VAN LEYDEN, Nicolaus
(active 1462-1473)

Biography

Supposed self-portrait in Strasbourg

Nicolaus Gerhaert van Leyden (also Nicolas Lerch), Netherlandish sculptor, the most powerful and original Netherlandish sculptor of the second half of the 15th century, a seminal artist of the generation preceding Albrecht Dürer's. He was born to a family originally from the Netherlands and died c. 1473 (or 1493), in Wiener Neustadt (Austria).

He lived in Strasbourg from 1462 to 1467, becoming a citizen in 1464. During his stay there he worked for the tabletier (maker of specialist inlaid pieces of furniture such as chess tables) Symon Haider. He is known to have worked in Trier and Vienna, and several signed or documented works survive, in both stone and wood, but the details of his life are obscure.

His work is extraordinarily vivid and unconventional, capturing an intense feeling of inner life, as in the celebrated bust of a man in Strasburg (Musée de l'Oeuvre, Notre-Dame), which is usually considered to be a self portrait. The voluminous style of his draperies and his boldness of approach suggest that he was trained in a Burgundian workshop where Claus Sluter's style was still predominant, although his name indicates that he was born in the northern Netherlands. His work had considerable influence, particularly in Germany.



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