Hugo van der Goes (ca. 1440–1482) was the most important Netherlandish artist of the second half of the fifteenth century. Active in Ghent and Brussels, he belonged to the second generation of Early Netherlandish painters, following in the footsteps of pioneers such as Jan van Eyck and Rogier van der Weyden. His works were highly admired by his contemporaries and frequently copied, right up into the seventeenth century. In 1520, Albrecht Dürer referred to him as a “great master”, an honor he bestowed on very few artists. In 2022, the Gemäldegalerie will present the very first monographic exhibition to focus on this painter.
Monumental Panel Paintings
While recent decades have seen exhibitions showcasing the work of almost all the major Netherlandish painters of the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, Hugo van der Goes has been largely neglected. This is mainly due to the rarity of his works and their often impressive dimensions. Two of these large-format paintings are housed by the Gemäldegalerie, which is why this museum’s collection lends itself to a monographic show like no other. The two monumental Berlin panels, the Monforte Altarpiece (ca. 1470) and The Nativity (ca. 1480), will play a central role in the exhibition. Over the course of the past twelve years, both works have undergone extensive restoration work. Today, they exhibit a vibrancy that was previously unimaginable.
Together for the First Time
These two paintings will be joined by numerous important loans from European and American collections. The exhibition will provide viewers with the opportunity to compare the majority of this master’s preserved oeuvre for the very first time. Next to paintings on wood and canvas, a number of drawings offer a deeper insight into the production of this artist.
These works, created by Hugo van der Goes’s own hand, will be supplemented by various paintings that reproduce once famous compositions by the master that have since been lost. These include the lost wings of the Berlin Monforte Altarpiece, a frequently repeated depiction of the Adoration of the Magi, and a rendition of the Lamentation of Christ, of which over 100 copies have been preserved.
The exhibition is rounded off by a section on the immediate successors of Hugo van der Goes. It will include a number of outstanding works that were markedly influenced by his style.
Hugo van der Goes was one of the most significant European artists of the early modern era. This exhibition will bring many of his works together for the first time, providing a unique viewing experience. At the same time, various aspects about the artist and his oeuvre, the social and intellectual milieu in which he worked, as well as the technical features of his paintings, will be conveyed in a concise and accessible fashion.