Master of the Guild of St George

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(fl c. 1485–1504). South Netherlandish painter, active in Mechelen. He was named by Friedländer after the Portrait of the Members of the Guild of St George (c. 1495; Antwerp, Kon. Mus. S. Kst.), one of the earliest surviving group portraits in Netherlandish painting. He has sometimes been identified with Boudewijn van Battel (fl 1465–1508), also known as van der Wyct, but this remains conjectural. Other paintings (both portraits and narratives) have been attributed to him on stylistic grounds: Jean de Mol (c. 1485; U. London, Courtauld Inst. Gals); a diptych showing Philip the Fair and Margaret of Austria (c. 1494; Vienna, Ksthist. Mus.); panels illustrating the Legend of St Rombaut (c. 1500–03; Mechelen Cathedral); the triptych of Charles V and his Sisters as Children (c. 1502; Vienna, Ksthist. Mus.; see fig.); and the Seigneur of Bricquegny (c. 1504; Ghent, Despiegelaere priv. col.). His style and technique are highly personal. Narrative compositions are a montage of individual images; the demands of the narrative sequence are given precedence over perspectival unity, and consequently there is only a limited sense of spatial illusion. In the portraits the emblematic element determines the composition. Realism and convention are combined by individualizing the faces within a standard formula and by varying the handling of the modelling. The stiff figures are ill-proportioned, with tiny bodies, large heads and stubby hands; the drapery is composed of tight, angular folds. Compositions are sketched with areas of colour used as the base tone of the pictorial design; rough outlines in the underdrawing are reinforced on the surface by heavy lines. Together with the systematic alterations to the composition during execution, these features indicate the prime importance for the artist of the painting process in the elaboration of the forms.

From The Grove Encyclopedia of Northern Renaissance Art in Oxford Reference.

Subjects: Renaissance Art.

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