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Hugo van der Goes

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Hugo van der Goes

*  1440 Gent
† 1482 Roode Kloster bei Brüssel


Hugo van der Goes is regarded the most important representative from the second generation of old Dutch art.
Much of his early life is in the dark. Hugo van der Goes was born at Gent, presumably around 1440 or in the first half of the 1440s, perhaps also in Antwerp, Leiden or Bruges. It is unknown where he served his apprenticeship.
The archives do not mention Hugo van der Goes before 1467, when he is mentioned him as member of the painters gild of Gent. Between 1474 and 1476 Hugo van der Goes was mentioned as the gild’s dean, which, in addition to numerous commissions, delivers proof of his high regard.
But yet, in 1477, at the peak of his career, Hugo van der Goes became lay priest ("frater conversus") at the Roode abbey near Brussels, a then Augustinian monastery of the Congregation of Windesheim. Behind the walls of the abbey, Hugo van der Goes was still active as painter, received eminent visitors and went on journeys. In 1480 Hugo van der Goes also appeared as worldly expert, evaluating the estate of Dierick Bouts for the magistrate of Löwen.
As artist Hugo van der Goes was active only between 1467 and 1482. But despite this relatively short period of creation of only 15 years, his paintings had significant influence on artists of following generations. They are psychologically and spiritually pervaded, highly realistic and at the same time monumental religious works. The "Portinari-Altar" by Hugo van der Goes, which was soon brought to Florence, is in the Uffizi today, and can be called a vital source of influence for Italian art.
According to the chronicle of the Roode monastery, kept by the brother Gaspar Ofhuys, Hugo van der Goes suffered a severe mental illness, presumably depression, which increased around 1481. In 1482 Hugo van der Goes died in the monastery.