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Hans Memling

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Hans Memling

*  1435 Seligenstadt
† 1494 Brügge


Hans Memling, whose last name hints at the small village of Mömlingen near the city of Aschaffenburg, was born in Seligenstadt on the river Main around 1435. Little is known about the life of the painter who counts among the most important representatives from the second generation of old Dutch artists. Hans Memling (Jan van Memmelynghe, Jean Memlinc, Jan van Memnelinghe, Johannes Memmelinc, Hans Memmelink) presumably received first lessons in art in north-western Franconia, from where he went to travel down the river Rhine. In Cologne the young Hans Memling found inspiration with the art of Stephan Lochner. Most of all, however, Hans Memling's works show the influence of the great Rogier van der Weyden, which is why it is assumed that Memling was a member of Rogier's workshop in Brussels. After van der Weyden's death Hans Memling (Jan van Memmelynghe, Jean Memlinc, Jan van Memnelinghe, Johannes Memmelinc, Hans Memmelink) became citizen of Bruges in 1465. Around 1466 he married Anna de Valkenaere.
Hans Memling soon gained quite some fame in his adopted home and was a leading figure in Bruges painting. His broad narrations and lively paintings of appealing scenes in a realism of the "Ars Nova" was very popular. Highest Bruges circles provided commissions, so did international art lovers, because many big trading companies had offices in Bruges. Among Hans Memling's works were altar panels, religious scenes for private usage and portraits. Hans Memling made his most famous work, the "Last Judgment" (today in possession of the Museum Narodowy Gdansk), at the age of around 30 for the Italian Angelo Tani, who the Medici had sent to Bruges as their agent.
Hans Memling (Jan van Memmelynghe, Jean Memlinc, Jan van Memnelinghe, Johannes Memmelinc, Hans Memmelink) was presumably quite established in Bruges' highest circles, because of his post as master of the gild and fraternity member. In 1480 he was able to afford a large stone house and tax documents deliver proof of his wealth.
The art of Hans Memling, successful during his lifetime, was not continued after his death in 1494, because he did not have any students of supra-regional importance.