Hugo van der Goes (* about 1440 probably in Ghent; † 1482 in Oudergem near Brussels) was a Flemish painter and main master of Old Netherlandish painting in the 2nd half of the 15th century.
On 4 May 1467 he became master in the "Painter's Guild Lucas" in Ghent (through this event van der Goes becomes historically graspable for the first time). His witness and guarantor is Joos van Wassenhove, better known as Justus van Gent. There is no evidence of an earlier painting activity. In 1468 Hugo van der Goes, together with Jacques Daret and other artists, was called to Bruges to decorate the city for the wedding celebrations of Charles the Bold with Margaret of York.
From 1474 to 15 August 1476 he was dean of the painters' guild. Already during his lifetime he achieved widespread fame, as his few surviving works for the bourgeoisie and nobility attest.
Shortly before 1 November 1475, he entered the Roode Clooster near Brussels as an Augustinian friar, but did not give up painting during his stay in the monastery. Here, too, the painter received high-ranking visitors: even the Archduke and later Emperor Maximilian came to look at paintings and to order paintings. The external reason for his withdrawal is unknown.
In 1481 he undertook a journey to Cologne with some brothers, on the return journey of which he suffered a fit of suicidal tendencies. Whether he recovered completely before his death is unknown. After arriving at the monastery, he changed his behaviour: he renounced the privileges and advantages he had received from the prior because of his widely known reputation. In 1482 van der Goes died.
From 1483, his masterpiece, the Portinari Triptych, played a role in the development of realism and the use of colour in Italian Renaissance art in Florence.
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9 | Portinari Altarpiece (Portinari-Triptychon), 1473-1477
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