Olga's Gallery

Hugo van der Goes Biography

Hugo van der Goes, alongside the somewhat younger Hieronymus Bosch, is the most important Netherlandish painter of the second half of the 15th century. Little is known about his life, and his artistic origins are also unclear. Records from 1480 state him as being born in Ghent. Since he was granted the title of master painter in Ghent in 1467, he must have been born around 1440-1445. As early as 1477, he gave up his workshop and became a lay brother at the Red Monastery near Brussels, where he died in 1482 after a severe mental illness.

The Portinari Altar (1476-78) is his only authenticated surviving work, around which others can nevertheless be grouped with some certainty: Monforte Altar, The Fall of Adam

, one of his earliest surviving works, and several others. Hugo van der Goes occupies a unique position in painting history because of his insight into character and class and through his intensely observant, almost surreal, rendering of nature and space. Hugo’s Portinari Altar, which was erected in Florence in 1478, exercised a revolutionary influence upon Florentine painting; it was felt by many of the Florence painters and is reflected in particular in the works of

Ghirlandaio, Filippino Lippi, and Leonardo da Vinci.


Hugo van der Goes. by V. Denis. Berlin. 1964.

Hugo van der Goes. by M. Domscheit. Dresden. 1976.