Hugo van der Goes (c. 1440 - 1482-83) was a Flemish painter best known for his Portinari Altarpiece in which he depicts the adoration of the shepherds. The work is in the form of a Triptych (three hinged panels) and is the largest Netherlandish work that could be seen in Florence at the time. He was a master in the painter's guild in the city of Ghent and is considered the greatest Netherlandish painter of the second half of the 15th century for both his masterful handling of oil painting and psychological depiction of individuals in his scenes. Our set contains most of his works including The Fall of Man, The Adoration of the Shepherd, The Calvary Triptych, The Monforte Altarpiece, and The Lamentation of Christ.

Patterns Included In This Set:


Death of the Virgin

Monforte Altarpiece

The Lamentation of Christ


The Fall of Man

Portrait of a Donor with John the Baptist

Portrait of a Man


A Benedictine Monk

Deposition Diptych (left wing)

Deposition Diptych (right wing)


Madonna and Child

Adoration of the Shepards

The Lamentation of Christ


The Adoration of the Shepherds

Sts Anthony and Thomas with Tommaso Portinari

Sts Margaret and Mary Magdalene with Maria Portinari


The Lamentation


Adoration of the Shepherds (detail)


Adoration of the Shepherds (detail)

Calvary Triptych (left wing)

Calvary Triptych (central panel)


Calvary Triptych (right panel)

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The work of Hugo van der Goes

Hugo van der Goes (1440-1482) was known for his art at a young age. He was just 27 years old when he was asked to join Ghent’s city guild for painters as a master. The city of Ghent, near Brussels, produced some notable artists, who, like Goes, were considered Flemish painters. Other famous painters of this style from surrounding areas include Jan van Eyck and Rogier van der Weyden.

These Early Netherlandish painters were well known in their lifetimes. Their work originated in the low countries during the Northern Renaissance of the 15th and early 16th century. Hugo van der Goes was born in 1440 in this region and painted there until his unrecorded death in or around the year 1482.

The short life of this painter did not prohibit him from leaving a lasting impression on art and culture. Hugo van der Goes is best known for an altar piece that was commissioned by the church of San Egidio in Florence. Titled “Portinari Triptych,” the oil on wood painting was greatly praised in Italy; to this day, it is the most famous surviving piece of Goes’.

An earlier success for Goes happened in 1468; as a master at Ghent’s painters’ guild, he was commissioned to provide paintings for the marriage celebration between Charles the Bold and Margaret of York. After multiple contributions to Charles’ courts, Goes was elected dean of the guild, near 1473.

Northern Renaissance and Flemish Art

To say that Hugo van der Goes is a famous artist would be an understatement; he produced critical art work that solidified Flemish art as a signature of the Northern Renaissance.

One characteristic of Renaissance art are the various depictions of individuals experiencing life’s softest moments; images of a mother holding her child, or a king’s priest bowing in prayer, in addition to tender-biblical scenes such as the death of Christ, are best associated with this era of art. This was a welcome change from Gothicism—the preceding era trademarked by gaudy images that dramatically merged royalty and religion. This subtle but historical shift came from the Netherlands, where many well-known artists originated throughout the 15th and 16th centuries.

One artist who preceded Goes was Jan van Eyck, best known for The Arnolfini Portrait. Another was Rogier van der Weyden, who was widely known throughout the Netherlands, Italy and Spain.

Following in the footsteps of Goes and his career, even attending the same painters’ guild in Ghent, were Gerard and Lucas Horenbout. Both father and son concentrated on illuminated manuscript paintings at a time when Renaissance painters in Italy began to take attention away from Early Netherlandish painters.

Hugo van der Goes’ success had already been sealed by then, along with his reputation as a historical figure in art.

Life and Influence

The life and death of the young artist are not widely known. His surviving work serves as the most consistent records of his life, while writings about his final years and death offer the best material for understanding Hugo van der Goes. This account was written by Gaspar Ofhuys, a man who lived with Goes in his final 8 years of life.

In 1475, at the height of his career, Goes moved into a monastery and took up the position of a layperson. While at Roode Kloster, still near Brussles, he continued to paint, receive commissions for notable projects and journey throughout the Netherlands. However, his successful career as a painter was covered with a film of personal depression; in 1481, he suffered a mental breakdown and attempted to take his own life.

The actual date and year of his death is unknown. But one thing is certain; the art of Hugo van der Goes has forever influenced the history of art. As one of the best known Flemish painters during the Northern Renaissance, Goes holds a significant position in developing and transforming art from Gothic traditions to Baroque. While the following period of High Renaissance art continued to produce artists like Michelangelo and Leonardo da Vinci, Hugo van der Goes name stands out above the rest. May his life and legacy continue to be celebrated for what he is best known for -- his art.

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