Hans Memling was a German-born painter active mostly in Flanders. He became one of the foremost painters of the Bruges School of painting. Alongside Jan van Eyck and his teacher Rogier van der Weyden, Memling helped to develop the Netherlandish style of art as a whole. Some of Memling’s main artworks are Scenes From The Passion of Christ, Portrait of a Young Man Before a Landscape, Last Judgement Tryptych, Advent and Triumph of Christ, and St. John Altarpiece.
Hans Memling was born circa 1430, in the city of Seligenstadt, Germany. Memling’s early biography is rather unclear. At first, the artist served his apprenticeship at either Mainz or Cologne. Later, he went to the Low Countries, where he went under the tutelage of the distinguished Dutch painter Rogier van der Weyden, in Brussels, before going to Bruges.
There’s an apocryphal anecdote that Memling was wounded in 1477 at the Battle of Nancy, being sheltered and healed by the Knights Hospitallers, also known as the Order of St. John. Memling painted a picture for the Order free of charge as a token of gratitude. The artist had no relation to any military operation. However, Memling indeed painted for the Hospitallers on two occasions and was probably acquainted with the Order’s patrons.
In 1477, the artist was incorrectly declared dead. In fact, Memling was under a commission to execute an altarpiece to the chapel of the booksellers of Bruges; the artwork was named Scenes from the life of Mary.
In 1479, Memling executed one of his masterpieces, The Last Judgement, located at the St. Mary’s Church in Gdansk. Throughout his career, the artist received several significant commissions, from altarpieces to portraits. One of his most known paintings is Portrait of a Young Man Before a Landscape.
The relationship of Memling and Van der Weyden might have extended beyond student and teacher and escalated to colleagues. This narrative is supported by an altarpiece alternately assigned to each of the artists, possibly due to their joint efforts.
Hans Memling died on August 11, 1494.