Hugo van der Goes and Brussels

Hugo van der Goes was enlisted as a master at the guild of painters in Ghent in 1467. Around 1475–76 he moved into the priory at Rood Klooster, near Brussels, where he died in 1482. Considered a painter from Ghent, his importance in Brussels has been underestimated.

The chronicle of a monk named Gaspar Ofhuys records that “frater Hugo” continued to paint at the priory, where he enjoyed such a reputation that Emperor Maximilian visited him there. In a Romantic context during the nineteenth century, the fits of madness described by Ofhuys were probably exaggerated.

Van der Goes’ style influenced several painters working in Brussels. The expressiveness and emphasis on gesture typical of his work are also found in the Master of the Life of Joseph, who also took inspiration from Van der Goes’ compositions. Another painter influenced was Aert van den Bossche, who may have been one of Hugo’s assistants. The portraits by the Master of the Princely Portraits are less idealized that those of Rogier van der Weyden but are also indebted to Van der Goes.