Regarded as one of the three great Early Flemish Painters of all time, Rogier van der Weyden is considered to be one of the most influential Northern painters of the 15th century. Along with Jan van Eyck and Hugo van der Goes the group was also called the Flemish Primitives. Weyden was known for painting elegant figures and colorful panel paintings which were mostly set in religious context. When it comes to altarpiece art, Weyden is regarded as one of the best. In fact Weyden has created some of the greatest Renaissance paintings in all of Europe. Weyden achieved a lot of success and fame during his lifetime as an active artist with commissions coming in from Spain and Italy with a clientele ranging from nobility, the Vatican to members of the Royal family. Weyden was known for his signature style which included using a broad range of colors and different tones set against mirrored backgrounds.
Rogier de la Pasture was born in 1399 in Belgium; there exists very little information about his early life and family. It is stated that Weyden may have started his apprenticeship with artist Roger Campin in his mid 20’s. Campin taught the young Weyden how to visualize and add in subtle refinements and elegance once a painting has been completed. This was quickly followed by his career taking off; soon he became the Chief Painter of Brussels and then after establishing himself firmly moved to Rome where he was commissioned to paint for the influential De Medici family of Florence. For his portraits Weyden preferred to work with real life models and was an acute observer. He often impersonalized his paintings by adding his own hidden yet elegant touches to the faces. His paintings are infused with his signature warm colorizations and naturalism which was found in many other of his works. Among the altarpieces which he became well known for his masterpieces include the Descent from the Cross and Last Judgment in Beaune. Descent from the Cross is considered to be an all time masterpiece. It comprises of sculpted figures and strong colors of red, white and blues which give the impression of immense power and influence. Weyden worked very hard on the facial features of his main character whom happened to be the Virgin Mary. The painting was so strong that it had a powerful impact on other European art movements like the Cologne School of Painting. He made a strong clientele for himself during his time in Rome, he eventually ended up returning to Brussels. Most of Weyden’s paintings are heavily dedicated to Mary, Christ and the saints.
Weyden also started teaching painting to inspiring your artists in both Rome and Brussels. Slowly he started gaining a reputation of a good art master as well. During his time as an active artist despite being part of the group, Weyden’s work eventually eclipsing van Eyck and van der Goes’s. Weyden also became famous for introducing the concept of iconography into his paintings. Many artists who followed Weyden went onto become great artists themselves; these include Hans Memling and Martin Schongauer.