by Rogier van der WEYDEN

In the 15th-century Netherlands, drawings were not yet regarded as works of art in their own right. They were not seen as independent representations, merely as aids to the creation of a complete work which might be a painting, a sculpture, or a tapestry. Their constant use in workshops, and the fact that they were handed on from artist to artist - whether as a legacy to a painter's successors, or on loan from one master to another - led to wear and tear on the drawings themselves, so that in the end they had to be replaced, and the originals were thrown away Consequently, only a fraction of the huge number of drawings that must have existed in the stocks of Netherlandish workshops has been preserved. North of the Alps, it is not until around 1500, when Albrecht Dürer was collecting drawings by his much admired predecessor Martin Schongauer (c. 1450-1491), that any higher regard for drawings as a specific means of artistic expression, or their careful preservation and collection, can be traced.

However, no designs or sketches for any of Rogier's extant paintings have been preserved. Equally problematical is the ascription of any drawings to him. His underdrawings, carried out in another medium, for other purposes, and to a different scale, do not really allow comparisons to be made. This page will therefore look at the best and liveliest of the few dozen drawings that are close to his paintings in motif, style, or the conception of the figures. One might expect that an artist like Rogier, whose paintings display confident and sensitive drawing of form, could produce outstanding work in pen or pencil, but those criteria are not necessarily the deciding factor, since there may also have been some highly gifted draftsmen among Rogier's assistants and successors.

Preview Picture Data Info
Young Man
Silverpoint on prepared paper, 98 x 81 mm
Staatliche Museen, Berlin

Portrait of a Young Woman
c. 1440
Silverpoint on prepared paper, 166 x 116 mm
British Museum, London

Pen over chalk tracing on paper, 298 x 425 mm
Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York

St Mary Magdalene
Silverpoint on prepared paper, 176 x 130 mm
British Museum, London

Virgin with the Blessing Child
Metalpoint on white paper mounted on pink-coloured sheet, 216 x 133 mm
Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen, Rotterdam

Descent from the Cross
c. 1460
Pen over chalk drawing on paper, 240 x 357 mm
Musée du Louvre, Paris

Head of the Madonna
c. 1460
Silverpoint on prepared paper, 128 x 109 mm
Musée du Louvre, Paris

Summary of works by Rogier van der Weyden
Deposition | St Luke Madonna | Annunciation | Miraflores
7 Sacraments | Crucifixion | Bladelin (Middelburg) | Beaune
Braque | St Columba | St John | Various altarpieces
Portrait diptychs | Individual portraits
Single panels
Pietàs | Various | Fragments, copies of last works

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