(b. ca. 1404, Tournai, d. 1470)
Oil on oak panel, 57 x 52 cm
Staatliche Museen, Berlin
Robert Campin, who is generally identified as the Master of Flémalle, had a workshop in Tournai from 1406 at the latest, and, as we know from several documents, it received many commissions from the city, various institutions, and private individuals. According to a document (which is a copy of old records of the painters' guild, dating from around 1482, that is to say some 50 years later) a certain Jacques Daret was an "apprentice" in the workshop at about the same time as Rogier van der Weyden; he joined it on 12 April 1427 and became a master on 18 October 1432. We do know, however, that Daret had already been working with Campin for over ten years, so he must have learned his trade as a painter long before 1427; the description "apprenticeship" cannot therefore be correct for him at this period. We may assume that both Daret and Van der Weyden completed their real apprenticeship earlier and they must have worked together in Campin's workshop around 1430 as trained painters.
Four paintings executed by Campin's pupil Jacques Daret in 1434-35 for Jean du Clercq, abbot of St. Vaast in Arras, are extant and are unusually well documented. They originally ornamented the wings of an altar shrine decorated with alabaster sculptures. In these panels Daret shows himself a capable if not particularly innovative or sensitive artist, very closely related to Rogier and in particular to the Master of Flémalle. Daret's Visitation of Mary is so similar to Rogier's painting of the same subject (Museum der Bildende Künste, Leipzig)), which is certainly later, that we have to assume they had a common model. And Daret follows one picture from the "Flémalle group" so closely, the Nativity now in Dijon Museum, that it can almost be called a free copy.
This kind of painting, which now appears mediocre in comparison with the works of masters such as Rogier van der Weyden, was still so new and unusual in its time that a chronicler tells us how the donor, Jean de Clercq, seen here kneeling on the left with his abbot's insignia, proudly showed this altarpiece wing to the participants in the peace conference negotiating the Treaty of Arras in 1435.