DAVID, Gerard
(b. ca. 1460, Oudewater, d. 1523, Bruges)

Triptych of Jan Des Trompes

Oil on wood, 129,7 x 96,6 cm (central panel), 132 x 43 cm (each wings)
Groeninge Museum, Bruges

The work of Gerard David, another foreigner drawn to the wealthy city of Bruges, offers a final summary of the technical and spiritual tradition of the fifteenth century. David was born in Oudewater in Holland, but worked mostly in Bruges between 1484 and 1523, where, in a manner of speaking, he became Memling's successor. Two of his masterpieces, The Judgment of Cambyses (1498) and the Triptych of Jan des Trompes, belong to the Groeninge Museum in Bruges. In both works, Memling's flawless precision and cool smoothness are combined with the anatomical realism and seriousness of Van der Goes.

The triptych with the Baptism of Christ, even though it was probably done after the Judgment of Cambyses, still breathes the quiet, ethereal atmosphere so characteristic of the Flemish Primitives. It is also one of the period's most remarkable artistic evocations of landscape and flora. It was commissioned by Jan des Trompes, a leading civil servant in Bruges, who appears in the painting with his first and second wives (front and rear of the right wing). His third wife donated it to the Chapel of the Vierschaar tribunal in Saint Basil's Church after his death.

© Web Gallery of Art, created by Emil Krén and Daniel Marx.