Gerard David

active 1484; died 1523

Gerard David was the last great 15th-century painter from Bruges working within the tradition of realism founded by van Eyck. A subtle colourist, he succeeds in creating atmosphere through his evocative landscapes.

David's work suffered critical neglect for a long time, but is now highly regarded for its technical skill and gentle mysticism. He is thought to have come from Oudewater where he was probably trained by his artist father. The influence of Rogier van der Weyden is discernible in his work. He entered the painters' guild in Bruges in 1484 and was mainly active there, becoming the leading painter after the death of Memling ten years later.

He shared with the other artists from Bruges a concern for precise characterisation and the depiction of the minute details of objects. This makes his pictures rewarding to examine closely.