Rogier van der Weyden, ‘Portrait of an unknown young woman’, c. 1435, British Museum

Image rights: © The Trustees of the British Museum

About Rogier van der Weyden

The early facts of Rogier van der Weyden’s life are unknown, but he entered the atelier of Robert Campin at the age of 27, where he would adopt his master’s detailed naturalism. He settled in Brussels and was quickly appointed the city’s official painter, giving him the opportunity to fulfill numerous public commissions. Van der Weyden particularly excelled as a portraitist; he was able to capture a sitter’s distinguishing characteristics and garments with a refined elegance. In fact, van der Weyden established new conventions in portraiture that were copied and implemented throughout the Netherlands. His fame spread rapidly throughout Europe, and he even received commissions for portraits from the Medici family in Italy. Van der Weyden’s later work tended towards austerity in color and composition, drawing on medieval aesthetics.

Flemish, ca. 1399 - 1464, Tournai, Belgium, based in Brussels and Tournai, Belgium