Hugo van der Goes

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File:Goes Deposition right adj2.jpg
Right wing of Deposition (c. 1480), tempera on canvas, 53.5 x 38.5 cm, Gemäldegalerie Berlin

Hugo van der Goes (Ghent c. 1430/1440 – Auderghem 1482) was a Flemish painter. He was, along with Jan van Eyck, Rogier van der Weyden, Hans Memling and Dieric Bouts, one of the most important of the Early Netherlandish painters.


Born in or near Ghent, van der Goes was enlisted as a member of the painters' guild of Ghent as a master in 1467. The following year he was involved in the decoration of the town of Bruges in celebration of the marriage between Charles the Bold and Margaret of York. He provided heraldic decorations for Charles's joyeuse entrée to Ghent in 1469 and later in 1472. He was dean of the Guild of Saint Luke in Ghent from 1474 till 1476.

Probably in 1478, Hugo entered Rood Klooster, a monastery in Oudergem near Brussels belonging to the Windesheim Congregation, and professed there as a frater conversus. He continued to paint, and remained at Rood Klooster until his death in 1482. In 1480 he was called to the town of Leuven to evaluate the Justice Scenes left unfinished by the painter Dieric Bouts on his death in 1475. Shortly after this, Hugo, returning with other members of his monastery from a trip to Cologne, fell into a state of suicidal gloom, declaring himself to be damned. After returning to Rood Klooster, Hugo recovered from his illness, and died there. His time at Rood Klooster is recorded in the chronicle of his fellow monk, Gaspar Ofhuys.[1] A report by a German physician, Hieronymus Münzer, from 1495, according to which a painter from Ghent was driven to melancholy by the attempt to equal the Ghent Altarpiece, may refer to Hugo.


His most famous surviving work is the Portinari Triptych (Uffizi, Florence), an altarpiece commissioned for the church of San Egidio in the hospital of Santa Maria Nuova in Florence by Tommaso Portinari, the manager of the Bruges branch of the Medici Bank. The triptych arrived in Florence in 1483, apparently some years after its completion by van der Goes. The largest Netherlandish work that could be seen in Florence, it was greatly praised. Giorgio Vasari in his Vite of 1550 referred to it as by "Ugo d'Anversa" ("Hugo of Antwerp"). This is the sole documentation for its authorship by Hugo; other works are attributed to him based on stylistic comparison with the altarpiece.[2]

After Hugo's death the triptyuch was wrongly attributed to others, including Andrea del Castagno and Domenico Veneziano.[1] These two artists had produced the frescoes around the altarpiece, but were not involved in its design. In 1824, Karl Friedrich Schinkel identified the piece as Hugo's, but it was not until later that this theory was accepted.[1]

Hugo appears to have left a large number of drawings, and either from these or the paintings themselves followers made large numbers of copies of compositions that have not survived from his own hand.[3] A drawing of Jacob and Rachel preserved at the Christ Church Picture Gallery, Oxford is thought to be a rare surviving autograph drawing; they also have two painted heads, a fragment from a large work.

File:Plaque Hugo Van Der Goes 01.jpg
Plate located on a wall at the former Red Cloister monastery (Auderghem).[4]


External video
Hugo van der Goes - The Adoration of the Kings (Monforte Altar) - Google Art Project.jpg
Van der Goes' The Adoration of the Kings, Smarthistory[5]


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 Koster, Margaret (1999). Hugo van der Goes's "Portinari Altarpiece": Northern invention and Florentine reception. Columbia University.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  2. National Gallery Catalogues (new series): The Fifteenth Century Netherlandish Paintings, Lorne Campbell, p.240, 1998, ISBN 1-85709-171-X
  3. Campbell, op. & page cit
  4. Caption is : "In Memoriam Frater Hugo van der Goes 1420 Rubea - Vallis 1482 Pictor Hugo Van der Goes humatus hic quiescit dolet ars, cum similem sibi modo nescit vixit tempore CAROLI AUDACIS ibidem factus monachus, ad maiorem dei gloriam."
  5. "Van der Goes' The Adoration of the Kings". Smarthistory at Khan Academy. Retrieved March 27, 2013.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>

External links