David, Gerard


David, Gerard
born с 1460, Oudewater, Neth.
died Aug. 13, 1523, Bruges

Netherlandish painter.

He worked mainly in Bruges, where he entered the painters' guild in 1484 and became dean in 1501. He became the city's leading painter after the death of Hans Memling. Most of his works are altarpieces and other panels featuring traditional religious themes, but his best-known paintings, The Judgment of Cambyses and The Flaying of Sisamnes (1498), deal with the theme of justice; they originally hung in the town hall of Bruges. His works are among the earliest Flemish paintings to feature the Italian Renaissance iconography of putti (male child angels) and garlands.

"Virgin and Child with Saints and Donor," panel painting by Gerard David, c. ...

By courtesy of the trustees of the National Gallery, London; photograph, J.R. Freeman & Co. Ltd.

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▪ Dutch painter
born c. 1460, Oudewater, Neth.
died Aug. 13, 1523, Bruges
 painter who was the last great master of the Bruges school.

      David went to Bruges, presumably from Haarlem, where he is supposed to have formed his early style under the instruction of A. van Ouwater; he joined the guild of St. Luke at Bruges in 1484 and became dean in 1501.

      In his early work, such as the “Christ Nailed to the Cross” (c. 1480; National Gallery, London) and the “Nativity” (Museum of Fine Arts, Budapest), he followed the Haarlem tradition as represented by Ouwater and Geertgen tot Sint Jans but already gave evidence of his superior power as a colourist. In Bruges he studied masterpieces by the van Eycks, Rogier van der Weyden, and Hugo van der Goes and came under the influence of Hans Memling. To this period belong the “Madonna Triptych” (c. 1495–98; Louvre, Paris) and the “Enthroned Madonna with Angels” (Darmstadt, Ger.). But the works on which David's fame rests most securely are his great altarpieces—the “Judgment of Cambyses” (two panels, 1498) and the triptych of the “Baptism of Christ” (c. 1502–07) at Bruges; the “Virgin and Child with Saints and Donor” (c. 1505; National Gallery, London); the “Annunciation” on two panels (Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York City); and, above all, the documented altarpiece of the “Madonna with Angels and Saints” (1509, Musée des Beaux-Arts, Rouen). These are mature works—severe yet richly coloured, showing a masterful handling of light, volume, and space. The “Judgment” panels are especially notable for being among the earliest Flemish paintings to employ such Italian Renaissance devices as putti and garlands. In Antwerp David became impressed by the life and movement in the work of Quentin Massys (Massys, Quentin), who had introduced a more intimate and more human conception of sacred themes. David's “Deposition” (c. 1515; National Gallery, London) and the “Crucifixion” (c. 1510–15; Genoa) were painted under this influence and are remarkable for their dramatic movement.

      Authorities disagree about the intent of David's eclectic, deliberately archaic manner. Some feel that he drew on earlier masters in an effort, doomed by lack of imagination, to revive the fading art of Bruges. Others see David as a progressive artist who sought to base his innovations on the achievements of the founders of the Netherlandish school.

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Universalium. 2010.

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