(b. ca. 1465, Ghent, d. ca. 1541, London)

Portraits of Lieven van Pottelsberghe and his Wife

Oil on panel, 43 x 34 cm (each)
Museum voor Schone Kunsten, Ghent

Lieven van Pottelsberghe and Livina van Steelant were prominent Ghent burghers. Their portraits have traditionally been attributed to the local miniaturist Gerard Horenbout, even though no comparable panels by him are known. Whoever the painter really was, the two works form an attractive echo of the realistic and restrained portraiture of the 15th century.

Horenbout belonged to the Ghent-Bruges school, a group of manuscript illuminators and scribes active during the last quarter of the 15th and first part of the 16th centuries, principally in the Flemish cities of Ghent and Bruges. Credit for founding the tradition that included such masters as Nicolas Spierinc, Liévin van Lathem, Alexander and Simon Bening, and Gerard Horenbout was formerly given to the Master of Mary of Burgundy, but recent investigations have suggested that the designation "Master of Mary of Burgundy" is more of a scholarly convenience than a reasonable hypothesis and that the works attributed to this nonexistent master were executed by several different illuminators.