Gerard David (b. ca. 1460, Oudewater, d. 1523, Bruges), was a
Flemish painter who was the last great master of the Bruges school.
David went to Bruges, presumably from Haarlem, where he is supposed to
have formed his early style under the instruction of Albert van Ouwater;
he joined the guild of St Luke at Bruges in 1484 and became dean in 1501.
In his early work, such as the Christ Nailed to the Cross (National
Gallery, London) and the Nativity (Museum of Fine Arts, Budapest), he
followed the Haarlem tradition as represented by Ouwater and Geertgen
tot Sint Jans but already gave evidence of his superior power as a
colourist. In Bruges he studied masterpieces by the van Eycks, Rogier
van der Weyden, and Hugo van der Goes and came under the influence of
Hans Memling. To this period belong the Marriage at Cana (c. 1500;
Louvre, Paris) and the Enthroned Madonna with Angels (Darmstadt). But
the works on which David's fame rests most securely are his great
altarpieces — the Judgment of Cambyses (two panels, 1498) and
the triptych of the Baptism of Christ (c. 1502–07) at Bruges;
the Virgin and Child with Saints and Donor (c. 1505; National Gallery,
London); the Annunciation on two panels (Metropolitan Museum of Art,
New York); and, above all, the documented altarpiece of the Madonna
with Angels and Saints (1509, Musée des Beaux-Arts, Rouen). These
are mature works — severe yet richly coloured, showing a masterful
handling of light, volume, and space. The Judgment panels are especially
notable for being among the earliest Flemish paintings to employ such
Italian Renaissance devices as putti and garlands. In Antwerp David
became impressed by the life and movement in the work of Quentin Massys,
who had introduced a more intimate and more human conception of sacred
themes. David's Deposition (c. 1515; National Gallery, London) and the
Crucifixion (1510–15; Genoa) were painted under this influence
and are remarkable for their dramatic movement.
Authorities disagree about the intent of David's eclectic, deliberately
archaic manner. Some feel that he drew on earlier masters in an effort,
doomed by lack of imagination, to revive the fading art of Bruges.
Others see David as a progressive artist who sought to base his
innovations on the achievements of the founders of the Netherlandish
From October of 1916 through January of 1917, Rudolf Steiner gave a series
of nine lectures known as the Art Course. These lectures were given
the title of:
The History of Art.
Click here to discover what Steiner said about Gerard David in the
or in the entire