Memling, Hans

Memling or Memlinc, Hans

(häns mĕm`lĭng, –lĭngk), c.1430–1494, Flemish religious and portrait painter, b. Germany. He may have studied with Roger van der Weyden in Brussels, but after 1466 he was in Bruges, working for Flemish patrons and for the many Italian businessmen there. His religious works reflect van der Weyden's figure types, but without their religious intensity. His portraits are more original, combining accuracy of representation with imaginative and varied treatment of the backgrounds. Details, such as flowers, animals, or architecture, are often sensitively observed. An example is his accurate view of Cologne Cathedral as it was in 1489 in the background of the St. Ursula Shrine panels (Bruges). His earliest known work is a triptych of The Madonna Enthroned with Saints and Donors (1468; Duke of Devonshire Coll., Chatsworth). Important works include The Adoration of the Magi Triptych and the Diptych of Martin van Nieuwenhoven (both Bruges); other pictures are in the Metropolitan Museum and the Pierpont Morgan Library, New York City; the National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.; and the museums of San Diego, Houston, and Montreal.


See study by K. B. McFarlane (1972).

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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Memling, Hans


Born circa 1440, in Seligenstadt, Hesse; died Aug. 11, 1494, in Bruges. Flemish painter.

Memling may have studied with Rogier van der Weyden. From 1465 he worked in Bruges. His works are distinguished by their serenity and clear colors. The religious scenes are reminis-cent of genre paintings of the burghers’ milieu (for example, the Chatsworth Triptych showing the Virgin and Child with the saints and donors [those who commissioned the painting], 1468, the National Gallery in London; and the panels for the St. Ursula shrine, 1489, Memling Museum, Bruges). However, in his works Memling somewhat rigidified the techniques of old Netherlandish painting. This dogmatic approach is particularly evi-dent in The Last Judgment, in which the artist achieved some monumentally of image (c. 1473, altar of the Church of the Virgin Mary, Gdansk). An especially noteworthy work is Bathsheba, a life-sized female nude, a rare subject in Flemish painting (c. 1485, Museum of Baden-Wiirtemberg, Stuttgart). In Memling’s portraits, most of which depict his patrons, the humanistic elements of his art are most clearly revealed.


Nikulin, N. N. “Altar’ Gansa MemlingaStrashnyisud. “Iskusstvo, 1960, no. 12, pp. 62-69.
Friedlander, M. J. The Early Netherlandish Painting [vol. 6, part 1:“Hans Memling”]. Leiden-Brussels, 1971. (With bibliography; translated from German.)
McFarlaine, K. B. Hans Memling. Oxford, 1971.
The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.