His delight in tiny detail, which he shares with Memlinc
, derives from a period when painting was thought of as a kind of magic.
Van Eyck's star was thrown into the shade by Rossetti's discovery of an artist of a generation later, Hans Memling or Memlinc
(1435-94), who worked in Bruges for most of his life.
Lacking the otherworldly refinement of the School of Memlinc
, Cornelisz also worked, whilst retaining his base in Bruges, with the less delicate and earthier Lucas van Leyden, who cleared the way for the rustic scenes of Pieter Bruegel.
Since I wrote the draft of this article, which I incorporated in part in a letter to the custodians of the Burrell Collection, the supposed Memlincs
have been re-attributed to the Master of the Prado Adoration of the Kings; puzzlingly, since in the view of Friedlaender and other connoisseurs of early Flemish painting, that master was Memlinc
In that spiritual and brutal city Memlinc chose a retired spirituality until his death exactly five centuries ago on 11 August 1494.
Just a year after his acceptance by the guild, Memlinc painted the Triptych of Sir John Donne, now in the National Gallery in London, a work consummate in imagination and technique, outdoing any other produced in Bruges since the time of Jan van Eyck.
Varari's distant testimony only adds to what is already evident: that Memlinc spent some time in the Studio of Rogier van der Weyden in Brussels, but not as an apprentice; more likely as first a journeyman, later a collaborator and finally a partner.
At least two of the Damned are tonsured monks, although Memlinc is more respectful to the clergy than Stephan Lochner, who consigns to his Underworld a bishop, a cardinal and a pope.
In this early, divided picture Memlinc was drawn in opposing directions and settled, conforming to his own nature, for peace and Stephan Lochner rather than turbulence and Rogier van der Weyden.
Memlinc is the celebrant of the Infant Jesus and the presence of saints rather than of Christ crucified and their tortures and martyrdoms.