Friday, February 16, 2007


This very nice picture is the work of Rogier van der Weyden (1400, Tournai-1464,Brussels), a Flemish painter (French Rogier de la Pasture) who, with the possible exception of Jan van Eyck, was the most influential northern European artist of his time. Though most of his work was religious, he produced secular paintings (now lost) and some sensitive portraits.

In spite of a tremendous career, considerable works and enormous influence during his life, the fame of Rogier van der Weyden quickly waned, and no painting by him had been signed or dated. By the end of the 16th century the biographer Carel van Mander had referred mistakenly to two Rogiers in Het Schilderboek (1603; "Book of Painters"), and by the middle of the 19th century his fame and art had all but been forgotten. Only through a meticulous evaluation of the documents have scholars over the past century been able to reconstruct Rogier's work and to restore the reputation of one of 15th-century Flanders' leading masters.

This picture shows St Ivo, bishop of Chartres cathedral, one of the most notable bishop of Rance at the time of the Investiture struggles and the most important canonist before Gratian in the Occident, born of a noble family about 1040, he died in 1116. In 1968, one director of Christie's saw at the house of Lady Baird a painting that seemed to him "one of the most beautiful, important Flemish pictures in the world." For two years, he researched the picture to establish the authenticity of the St Ivo of Chartres, known in his time as the "lawer of the poor".

After having established the authenticity of the St Ivo, Christie's talked Lady Baird into private sale on behalf of the National Gallery. It took months because Lady Baird was subjected to estate duty and the National Gallery had limited means. A gross price of £ 800,000 was finally established and when allowance has been made for estate duty and capital gains tax, the net cost for the Gallery was less than £ 500,000.

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