Geertgen Tot Sint Jans Netherlands
2-1465 Leiden, NED – 7-1495 Haarlem, NEDBack to Artist IndexView Artists Paintings
Geertgen tot Sint Jans was probably a pupil of Albert van Ouwater, who was one of the first oil painters in the northern Low Countries. Both painters lived in the city of Haarlem, where Geertgen was attached to the house of the Knights of Saint John, perhaps as a lay brother, for whom he painted an altarpiece. Geertgen tot Sint Jans took the name of St. John without joining the order, thus his last name "tot Sint Jans" was derived from the order's name and means "unto Saint John".
The assignment of Leiden as Geertgen tot Sint Jans birthplace is traceable to a 17th-century print by Jacob Matham, where he is referred to as Gerardus van Leydanus. This print of The Lamentation of Christ from 1620, shows in the lower left corner "Cum privil. Sa Cae. M. - Gerardus Leydanus Pictor ad S. Ia Bapt. Harlemi pinxit" indicating he was a painter from Leiden at St John the Baptist in Haarlem. This painting of the Lamentation was originally on the inside right door of a wood-panel triptych for the high altar of the St. John's church in Haarlem, and the two side panels were sawed off from the central panel into two separate paintings after the Protestant Reformation. Both side panels are quite fragile and are located in separate museums today.
Though Haarlem is a sleepy little suburban community of Amsterdam today, in the 14th century Haarlem was a major city. It was the second largest city in historical Holland after Dordrecht and before Delft, Leiden, Amsterdam, Gouda and Rotterdam. In 1429 the city gained the right to collect tolls, including ships passing the city on the Spaarne river.
As is typical of the art of the time it was done primarily on oak panels with oil paints made by mixing pigments with drying oil. This allowed the painter to build up layers of paint to provide different visual effects.
His paintings depict scenes derived from the New Testament and belong to the early Dutch School. Some of his paintings were destroyed during the Reformation. Around twelve surviving paintings are attributed to Geertgen tot Sint Jans, with others believed to be copies by others of lost originals by him.
Art Movement: Northern Renaissance
Influences: Albert van Ouwater