Click on photos to enlarge.

Sunday, June 30, 2013

Ivan Mestrovic

Photo by Jim Lane
Ivan Mestrovic Self-portrait, 1941
If you're anything like me, you've probably never heard of Split, Croatia. I'd never heard of it until the city turned up on the itinerary of our latest cruise of the Adriatic. And, if you've never heard of Split, it's unlikely you've ever heard of the city's greatest sculptor, Ivan Mestrovic. Moreover, it wouldn't be going to far to call him Croatia's greatest artist, even one of the outstanding sculptors of the whole 20th century. Over the years, I've covered the lives of 20th century sculptors such as Daniel Chester French, Auguste Rodin, Alexander Calder, Louise Nevelson, Henry Moore, and others. Mestrovic is lesser known, but easily in the same league. Yesterday (directly below) I discussed Art Deco, though I don't suppose anyone has ever associated Mestrovic's work with that style. Yet, his best works fall within that era and embody many of the same stylistic elements.

Photo by Jim Lane
The Katunaric Family, 1906,
Ivan Mestrovic
Why is it people are so unfamiliar with the name Mestrovic and the work of such an outstanding three-dimensional artist? First of all, he had the misfortune of having been born in the virtually unpronounceable mountain village of Vrpolje, Croatia, (then part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire) in 1883. Had he been French, for instance, his name might well be a household word. Moreover, the area and era in which he lived and worked was a nightmare of violent political, social, and military upheavals unmatched by few others in history. Though his work has always been popular, his services as an artists, sculptor, and architect very much in demand, Mestrovic also positioned himself in the middle of the muddle that was Balkan politics from a early age. As a result, his personal life was one of frequent flight to avoid persecution for his anti-communist beliefs and writings. In effect, he became a nomadic international artist, praised the world over yet damned for decades in his own country.

Photo by Jim Lane
Job, 1946, Ivan Mestrovic
Between 1931 and 1939, the wealthy sculptor designed and had built what could only be termed a small palace in Split. Eight stately Ionic columns dominate a massive, broad, double-flight of limestone steps overlooking impressive formal gardens and the exquisitely beautiful Adriatic coast. It was intended as a summer home and studio, though the artist and his wife with their four children lived in the completed villa barely a year before being forced to flee the country for a safer venue. Last week I visited that "palace," the Ivan Mestrovic Museum, which houses 192 sculptures, four paintings, 583 drawings, plus numerous architectural plans, all created between 1898 and 1961. Mestrovic died in 1962 in South Bend, Indiana, where he'd been a professor at Notre Dame, University from 1954, when he became an American citizen.

Photo by Jim Lane
The Last Supper, 1945, Ivan Mestrovic.

Photo by Jim Lane
Boy with Horse, c. 1936,
Ivan Mestrovic, is a portrait of the
sculptor's son, Mate (Matthew).
Ivan Mestrovic is the second most notable personage to ever occupy the city of Split, after the Roman Emperor, Diocletian (241-311 AD), whose somewhat larger, though infinitely less beautiful, palace dominates the city's ancient waterfront. Today the city of Split, indeed, much of Croatia and the Dalmatian coast, having mostly recovered from a senseless and disastrous civil war in the 1990s, is on the verge of becoming a first-rate resort attraction. As the city's star rises, that of Ivan Mestrovic will most deservedly soar with it.

Photo by Jim Lane
Roman Pieta, 1919, Ivan Mestrovic,
The influence of Michelangelo is
quite evident.


Saturday, June 29, 2013

Art Deco

1934 Chrysler Airflow--the future according to Art Deco
The 1027-30 Chrysler
Building, New York.
The cone meets the cube.
Yesterday, (just below) I expounded on the virtues and vices of Art Nouveau. In doing so I positioned it as easing the transition from Victorian fussiness to Modernism. It was that, but quite a great deal more. Art Deco was the essence of Modernism in its early stages, the starting point from which all we now consider "modern" in design originated. Art Deco grew out of two major factors in human development--the need for speed and industrialization. Speed demands a pointed, smooth, sleek, lean design. Industrialization demands simplification, standardization, practicality, and usually rectilinear, structure. Though, at times, these two factors conflicted with one another both in their functional as well as their design elements, they also very often complemented one another, alleviating the tendency for stylistic applications to become staid and boring over time. They were flexible. Aviation is a prime example. The "boxy" Ford Trimotor (below, left) of 1927 gave way to the "streamline" Douglas DC-3 (below, right) of 1936.

The Ford Trimotor, 1927

The Douglas DC-3, 1936

This timeline, the 1920s and 30s, often called the "inter-war" period, clearly delineates the height of Art Deco dominance in virtually all areas of design from aviation (which had a huge influence) to automobiles, sculpture, architecture, graphics, painting, even fashion design. If one had to come up with a single word to exemplify the look and style, it would be "sleek." Though today, the word seems hopelessly dated, having given way to "slick" and "chic," and a number of other evolutionary synonyms, during this turbulent period, it was "cool," it was "modern," it was the epitome of glamorous luxury and exuberant optimism in technological progress. It was not just futuristic, but was seen as the future itself.

Art Deco goes to war. Combat proved fatal.
Of course, the future turned out to be something quite different--the most ghastly war in the history of mankind. William van Alen's 1930 Chrysler Building and Carl Breer's sleek Chrysler Airflow (top) of 1934 gave way to the industrialized, bug-ugly Willys Jeep in 1941 (ironically, today built by Chrysler). Still, Art Deco flourished in the wartime posters, in the movies, even in the minimalized 1940s female fashion world of short, and slender skirts (below, left) and sleek slacks (below, right) of the period.

Katherine Hepburn in sleek slacks.
Art Deco fashions survived the war. 
It's trite to say that the war changed everything. And it's not entirely true, but in the world of art, such a broad statement may be more nearly factual than in any other area of human endeavor. Painting and sculpture used Art Deco as a launching pad into an otherworldly realm of abstraction and simplification of form barely imaginable before the war. Where objectivity was vital, the hopeful exuberance of the Art Deco triumphed as never before. Rocket science invaded the world of auto design and Bauhaus industrial rectitude engulfed architecture. In motion pictures, silly science fiction gave way to 2001: a Space Odyssey while in music swing turned to pop, then to rock, which evolved into an acidic future far removed from the optimistic fervor of its Art Deco antecedents.


Friday, June 28, 2013

Art Nouveau

Education, 1890, Louis Comfort Tiffany, the center section of a
window in Linsly Chittenden Hall, Yale University.
Hope II, 1908, Gustave Klimt
Around 1890, and from then until about 1910, there evolved a new style of art. It has since come to be seen as the transitional style between Classicism and what we have loosely come to call Modernism today. The only problem was, no one could agree upon what to call this new style. In Germany they called it Jugenstil (youth style). In Spain they called it Arte Joven (young art, except in Catalonia where it was called Moderisme). It was Arte Nova (new art) in Portugal, Nieuw Kunst (also new art) in the Netherlands, Stile Liberty in Italy while elsewhere around Europe it was called Stile Floreal (floral style), Lilienstil (lily style), Style Nouille (noodle style), Paling Stijl (eel style), and Wellenstile (wave style). In the U.S. we called it Tiffany Style (top) after the stained glass artist, Louis Comfort Tiffany. Following a great deal of nomenclatural warfare, the art world pretty much settled on the French name, Art Nouveau (new art), named for an art gallery in Paris called Maison de l'Art Nouveau (House of New Art).

Art Nouveau, the book cover
which started it all.
Art Nouveau was a broad art movement, innovative in style, and one that touched virtually all the arts in existence at the time. The name of Antonio Gaudi comes up in architecture. In graphic design the style not only had its birth but its most avid use and followers, starting in 1883 with Arthur Mackmurdo's book cover for Wren's City Churches (left), a guidebook to the London churches Christopher Wren. Actually, the style probably was least influential in the area of painting, prominent primarily in the work of Gustave Klimt (Hope II, above, right) and Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, as well as the prints of Aubrey Beardsley (below, left). Mostly one might characterize Art Nouveau as organic, or more precisely, as "botanic" (hence some of the more descriptive entries in the name game). If the decorative motif had vines, leaves, flowers, and curving, flowing lines (usually to a fault) it was Art Nouveau.

Isolde, 1899, Aubrey Beardsley
Twenty years is a nice, long run for any art style; but so much florid, flowing, floral flamboyance after a while can grow flagrantly flatulent. If the profound social changes of World War I hadn't killed it off, the advent of the 1920s' Art Deco would have. Art Deco was neat, clean, streamlined, and urban, all the things Art Nouveau was not. Art Nouveau eased the transition from Victorian overindulgence in all things decorative to the understated elegance of Art Deco, and eventually what we've come to think of today as "modern." Had it not been for Art Nouveau, the advent of Modernism would have been much more jarring.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

TV Painters

Bill Alexander, Alaskan Hideway
"Happy" Bob Ross
Several weeks ago I wrote on the first and original TV artist, the pattern for them all, Jon Gnagy (05-08-13). At the time, I briefly mentioned Bob Ross and Bill Alexander, two wet-on-wet painters who were to follow Gnagy a few years later on public television. It's difficult when you write daily on art and artist to keep coming up with great artist after great artist upon whom to expound. Consequently, I include from time to time the occasional artist whose work falls somewhat short of what art critics, myself included, would necessarily deem to be "great." Bob and Bill both fall into this category. They are "great" only because of the great 20th century entertainment medium of television and their mastery of the 28 minute time slot in relating their "how to" interpretations of oil painting. Stylistically, there's not a half-inch difference in their work, though Bill may have been a somewhat better all- around artist than his protégé. Yes, Bob Ross studied under Bill Alexander, which would account for most or all of their similarities.

"Bland" might be the kindest comment one could make regarding a Bob Ross
landscape, and that might be stretching the truth a little.
This fact does nothing, however, to account for their differences. Bill Alexander was German, born in East Prussia in 1916. He spoke with a modest German accent and a boisterous Prussian personality that, while TV exuberant (some would say to a fault) was only "palleteble" in small doses. Bob Ross, by contrast, born in 1942, was as American as leftover cherry pie on the fifth of July. He grew up in Orlando, Florida, and came to TV following a stint in the U.S. Air Force with duty in Fairbanks, Alaska. His television persona was so Mr. Rogers soft he was known to put viewers asleep halfway through their oil paintings. I'm not sure how many people actually learned to paint wet-on-wet landscapes by watching either of these art entertainment personalities, but I do know quite a number of local artists joined the adult art class I was teaching during the 70s and 80s as a result of having watched them.
The Bill Alexander mountain range.
Bob Ross, on his show, The Joy of Painting, did only landscapes, snowscapes, and the occasional seascape, for the most part a mountains, trees, and water formula with rare instances of manmade items such as cottages and boat docks. All were carefully rehearsed and donated to public television. Like Gnagy, both Ross and Alexander made their money from selling art supplies and the obligatory "how to" books. Alexander's show, The Magic World of Oil Painting, featured a slightly wider menu of subjects and techniques, extending to flowers and still-lifes. Bill could also paint portraits, though he never did so on TV. As to which show, which artist, you preferred, it came down to a matter of taste, depending upon whether you were the Mr. Rogers type or if you preferred a more Captain Kangaroo ambience.
Even long after his death in 1995, Bob Ross's gentle personality
made him an easy target for satire, some of which he seems to
have enjoyed. Here, though, the real target appears to have been BP.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Egbert van der Poel

View of Delft from the Southwest, 1615 , Hendrick Vroom
Egbert van der Poel--never heard of him, right? Neither had I until I was researching the Dutch genre painter, Jan Steen (05-13-13). and stumbled upon an artist, certainly not on the same level, but much more interesting. Egbert van der Poel was a Dutch landscape painter born in Delft, Holland, in 1621. Nothing unusual about that, Holland was rife with run-of-the-mill landscape painters all during its "Dutch Golden Age" of the 17th century, and van der Poel was one of them. Among his contemporaries were Jan Vermeer and Carel Fabritius, both of whom are highly admired today.

View of Delft, Jan van der Heyden,
--a quiet little town.
October 12, 1654 dawned pretty much like any other autumn day in Delft, Holland, a southern suburb of The Hague, famous then and now for its delicate blue on white ceramics. Shops were open, the cheese was selling well, painters were painting, children were playing outside, small boats moved up and down the town's many narrow canals delivering produce from the fall harvest. In the basement of a former Clarrisen convent near the center of town, around eleven a.m., Cornelis Soetens, a warehouse keeper, went to check on a secret government cache of about thirty to forty tons of gunpowder. Seconds later, for reasons never established, the entire magazine exploded in what has since been called the "Delft Thunderclap." The sound alone could be heard seventy miles away. Much of the central part of the town was flattened. Nothing was left of the convent/magazine but a hole in the ground which, this being Holland, quickly filled with water. Over one-hundred people were killed, thousands were injured. Among the dead was Egbert van der Poel's young daughter.

A View of Delft After the Explosion of 1654, Egbert van der Poel--
the aftermath of a 70,000 pound "bomb"
Carel Fabritius Self-portrait,
1645-49, dead at the age of 32.
Also among the dead was Delft's most famous painter, Carel Fabritius (left), a former student of Rembrandt, whose studio had been near the convent. All but about a dozen of his paintings were destroyed in the disaster. Egbert van der Poel was more fortunate. He lived on Dollenstraat somewhat further removed from the quarter part of the town destroyed by the blast. Despite the death of his daughter (or perhaps even because of his personal loss) van der Poel began sketching the disaster scene. The drawings led to his most famous painting, A View of Delft After the Explosion of 1654 (above). Much like photographers today would record the devastation of such a disaster, van der Poel's depiction (now in Washington's National Gallery of Art) records both the general scene and, in the foreground, the recovery effort. His work proved so popular, even though he moved his remaining family to Rotterdam, he spent the next several years copying his original scene including a version, similar to his first, depicting the moment of the explosion (below).

View of the Delft Explosion, 1654, Egbert van der Poel

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

George Romney

George Romney Self-portrait, 1784 
Every so often, as I thumb through the pages of art history, a name pops out at me. The name Romney did that today (for obvious reasons). I'm even old enough to remember when a George Romney briefly ran for president in 1968 before revealing to the press his so-called Vietnam "brainwashing." So far as I know there are no members of the Romney family today who are artists. However, during the late 1700s in the more erudite salons of London, the name would definitely have "rung a bell." George Romney was one of the more fashionable portrait painters of the time. He was not the best portrait painter of his day. The preeminent Sir Joshua Reynolds would desperately cling to that spot. And historically speaking, inasmuch as a portrait painter is often best known (and judged) literally by the faces of those he painted, George Romney's main claim to fame is having painted the beautiful Lady Hamilton, mistress of England's Heroic Lord Horatio Nelson, of Trafalgar fame. Thus, he could hardly be considered historically significant.
Lady Hamilton as Circe, 1782,
George Romney
The most one could say about George Romney was that he was a "good" portrait painter, perhaps even one of the "better" portrait artists of his day. The self-portrait (above, left) exhibits a confident air, appearing to be unfinished, which may or may not be the case. There is a fresh, "work in progress" quality to it that I find appealing, though such deliberate elements were not common during that period. George Romney died in 1802, so in being unfinished, either he deliberately chose not to finished the piece or he was burdened with a rather lengthy streak of procrastination.
Portrait of a Boy, George Romney.
Even in painting a boy, there is the
same, sweet, feminine look (tiny
mouth, large eyes) as seen in his
Lady Hamilton portraits.
Romney's painting of Lady Emma Hamilton as Circe (right, 1782) is fairly typical of Romney's female portrait, perhaps even a bit better than most. She is depicted as quite beautiful, even glamorous, what we might have called at one time a "Romney Girl." (Vivien Leigh played her in the 1941 British film, Lady Hamilton. It was excellent casting.) George painted her over sixty times, which might lead one to suggest she did little else but pose for Mr. Romney. Quite possibly she did a great deal more for him, but that's simply likely conjecture on my part. At any rate, by 1799, in failing health, the man returned to his wife (whom he'd not lived with for forty years), who nursed him until his death.
And in case you're wondering, the English George Romney's first cousin, Miles Romney, an architect and early convert to Mormonism (the Nauvoo, Illinois, era) came to the U.S. in 1837. He was responsible for the illustrious American branch of the family tree. He died in Utah in 1877.

Monday, June 24, 2013

Rubens Peale

Portrait of Rubens Peale with a Geranium, 1801, Rembrandt Peale
Rubens Peale, 1807, Rembrandt Peale

In simply looking at his ruddy slender face, delicate features, with tiny spectacles, and curly hair, the one word that might come to mind is "nerd." In the case of Rubens Peale, from the huge family of "painting Peales," you wouldn't be far off. As painted by his older brother, Rembrandt, in Rubens Peale with a Geranium (above) around 1801 when Rubens was just seventeen, we see a certain affection, but then have to wonder, what seventeen-year-old boy would seem to be so in love with a Geranium as to be painted with one? A second portrait, again by Rembrandt Peale some six years later (minus the Geranium), shows a young man with the characteristic Peale nose and receding hairline bespectacled and, despite a somewhat handsome face, no less "nerdy" looking. His sister's miniature portrait of him (Anna Claypoole Peale, below, left) is that of a mature young man (around thirty-five), though somewhat less flattering a depiction than that of her more adept brother.
Rubens Peale, 1830-30, Anna Claypoole Peale

Appearances can be deceiving, but not in this case. Though, like his older brothers and sisters, Rubens was taught by his father, Charles Willson Peale, to paint, it was a vocation for which he was ill-suited. In the early part of the 19th century, few people wore crude spectacles unless they were absolutely necessary. Rubens had weak eyes in a family whose stock in trade was miniature portraits. That was a critical handicap. And judging by his choice of still-life subjects, the man apparently was something of a gastronome with a sweet tooth. He painted luscious fruit and delectable looking cakes. He also like painting birds, and even combined the two as seen in his Magpie Eating Cake, from 1865.

Magpie Eating Cake, 1865, Rubens Peale
Rubens Peale was an intellectual. He took after his father, but not his painting father, rather his collecting father. Along with his brothers, Rembrandt, the painter, and Titian, the naturalist, Rubens primarily spent his adult life managing the family museums; and inasmuch as they went bankrupt, perhaps none too well. Moving from the family museums in Philadelphia and Baltimore, in 1825 Rubens opened his own enterprise in New York. Unfortunately, he was in direct competition with a museum run by none other than the flamboyant P.T. Barnum (in his pre-circus days). It was not a fair match. The Peales had culture--art and science. Barnum had a mermaid, a midget general (Tom Thumb) and singer Jenny Lind. Guess who won? By 1837, Rubens was broke eventually forced to sell out to the competition at a time when the family museums in Philadelphia and Baltimore had also bit the dust.

Wedding Cake, Wine, Almonds, and Raisins, 1860, Rubens Peale,
what we'd call a fruitcake today.
At the age of fifty-three, Rubens and his second wife (along with six kids) chose a secluded retirement to the family farm in Schuylkill Haven, Pennsylvania, where, despite his poor eyesight, during the final ten years of his life he kept a journal and did still-lifes, turning out more than 130 paintings. Not one of them was a portrait.

Still-life with Grapes, Watermelon, and Peaches, 1863, Rubens Peale


Sunday, June 23, 2013

Kenneth Noland

October, 1961, Kenneth Noland. No, that's not Noland in drag, it's art collector
Muriel Kallis Steinberg Newman. (Are those Kenneth Noland glasses?)
This is Kenneth Noland, during his
stripes period.
Very few artists' works can be classified into only four categories. In the case of color-field painter, Kenneth Noland, if it's not a circle, not a chevron, not stripes, or not a shaped canvas it's not a Kenneth Noland. Once you get past this limited content, Kenneth Noland's work is easy to like, though in lacking much emotional range, it might be going to far to call it "easy to love." Be that as it may, if you like or "love" colors, you're going find it easy to form an attachment for Noland's work simply because color relationships, and to a certain extent, shapes, is what Noland's work is all about. In fact, one could go so far as to say its all his work is about.

Ex-Nihilio, 1958, Kenneth
Noland,one of his earliest.
Noland was born in 1924, in the heart of heartland America, Asheville, North Carolina. Upon finishing high school amid the darkest days of WW II, Noland joined the Army Air Corp where he served during the war. Like so many young men his age, once the war was over the new G.I. Bill looked quite attractive. Noland chose the highly experimental (in more ways than one) Black Mountain College not far from his home where he was exposed to such creatively laden minds as Ilya Bowlotowsky and Josef Albers who exposed him to Piet Mondrian, Paul Klee, Bauhaus theory, and Neo-plasticism. All of these influences can be seen in his later work.

Beginning, 1958, Kenneth Noland
Following two years at Black Mountain, Noland studied in Paris another two years before moving into the heart of Abstract Expressionism in New York. There he met two other more powerful influences, Morris Lewis and Helen Frankenthaler. From Lewis, he borrowed his stripes, from Frankenthaler her trademark soak and stain method of painting. Neither artist was a bonafide member of the prevailing school of Abstract Expressionism. Neither was Noland. Nothing of his work can be found before 1958 when he started painting rather crude circles (sometimes called targets) as seen in his Ex-Nihilio (above, left). His Beginning (right) from the same year illustrates how quickly his targets evolved. The circles are still irregular but there is little Abstract Expressionist crudity apparent. It would appear he was waiting for the art world to get Abstract Expressionism out of its system.

Halfway, 1964, Kenneth Noland
By 1961, Noland's circles were near-perfect (top), his color relationships more subdued and complex. Perhaps feeling he'd achieved perfection he moved on to squares by 1964 and to shaped (some very oddly shaped) canvases in the 1970s (below). Late in life, in the final years before his death in 2010 at the age of eighty-five, Noland revisited his old friend the circle, this time with softer, more gentle colors and renderings (bottom).

Ova-Ray, 1976, Kenneth Noland,
a framer's worst nightmare.

Mysteries: Afloat, 2000, Kenneth Noland

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Blanche Hoschedé Monet

Blanche Hoschedé at her easel in the woods at Giverny (with Suzanne Hoschedé reading), 1887, Claude Monet
Unless their last names happen to be Pissarro or Renoir or Morisot, you hardly hear anything about second-generation Impressionists. There's a good reason for that. First, there were so many first-generation impressionist works painted there was hardly much of a market for anything by derivative artists. Second there simply weren't many second generation impressionist. Most who might have been moved on to Postimpressionism or Expressionism. Moreover, the Pissarro family alone pretty much crowded the market for new Impressionist works. However one last name trumped that of this prodigious clan. Her name was Blanche Hoschede Monet. She came by her name honestly. Her mother, Alice Hoschede, was Claude Monet's second "wife" after the death of Camille in 1879 (they were never officially married) thus making Blanche his unofficial step-daughter. Moreover, she was the wife of Claude Monet's eldest son, Jean, making her (if not her mother) officially a Monet. However, even more important than the niceties of a family tree was her close association with her step-father/father-in-law during his declining years at Giverny.

House and Garden of Claude Monet, Blanche Hoschede Monet
Blanche and Claude were inseparable. They lived, ate, and painted together for nearly 45 years. She and her mother were his primary caregivers until Claude Monet died in 1926 (the man lived to be 86). One art historian contends, quite reasonably, that they even worked together on some paintings. In any case, their work is virtually indistinguishable. Moreover, Blanche also studied with the art icon, Edouard Manet, who, though not technically an impressionist, was about as close as one could come without donning the label. Born in 1865, Blanche took up painting at the tender age of eleven about the time her family first became acquainted with the Monets. At one time, Claude Monet painted for her wealthy father (a department store owner) who went bankrupt and later deserted his family (and six kids). From about 1881, Blanche and her sister grew up with the two Monet children, Jean and Michel. She painted with him outdoors, sharing his canvases, easels, paints, brushes, and palette.

Meule, 1890-91, Claude Monet

le Meule, 1889-91, Blanche Hoschede Monet
It could easily be said that Claude Monet taught Blanche "everything he knew" about painting and Impressionism. When Claude Monet painted haystacks (above), Blanche was right beside him painting her own. (Left, hers being somewhat less colorful than his.) As his health waned, Blanche became Monet's studio assistant, doing for the invalided painter everything he could not do for himself. Claude Monet had few followers, but no artist could have asked for a more devoted student or daughter. She died at Giverny in 1947 at the age of 82.

Claude Monet, Giverny, 1920s, with water lily canvases.

Friday, June 21, 2013

Hans Memling

Passion Altarpiece, 1491, Lubeck Cathedral, Hans Memling

Hans Memling Self-portrait,
ca. 1470
Several weeks ago I dealt with Netherlandish painters and the fact that some of the best were quite anonymous. As a result, art historians and come to refer to them as "The Master of...." (04-29-13). Fortunately, the top tier, the cream of the crop, of these Northern Renaissance artists such as Rogier van der Weyden, Robert Campin, and the van Eyck brothers are definitely not anonymous. Hundreds of examples of their works exist. Also belonging to this list of artists is Hans Memling. The only problem with his work is that he was so strongly associated with his mentor, Rogier van der Weyden, even working together with him on the same commissions, that art historians have sometimes found it difficult to distinguish between them. As I discovered in trying to choose examples of his work to display here, there are well over a hundred pieces which have survived, mostly portraits and altarpieces, and all so intriguing in their own way as to make the choice quite difficult.

Last Judgment, 1466-73, Hans Memling
If you like your painting literal, hard-edged, religious, and highly detailed, you'll love Memling. His portraits are a bit rigid in pose but exquisite in detail and in capturing the character of the subject. Though Netherlandish, there is a no-nonsense German quality to his painting (he was born in Germany). His polyptych Passion altarpiece (top) is typical of his work of this type, though more elaborate, with its seven folding panels, than most. (The two flanking panels on each side are full-length portraits.) Even more dramatic is Memling's Last Judgment from 1466-73. Even Michelangelo didn't take that long; moreover, Memling is no Michelangelo. Memling knew his scripture though, the saved being welcomed into Heaven on Jesus' right, the damned being literally thrown into hell on his left. Memling seems to have relished the opportunity to paint nude figures without fearing damnation himself.

The Advent and Triumph of Christ, 1480, Hans Memling
Though Memling left behind some twenty paintings confirmed in their attribution (as well as several children and a sizable estate) quite a number of works said to be by Memling are questionable, most based on circumstantial and stylistic evidence. His earliest portrait was from 1467 but some attributions have been recorded as early as 1463. The difficulty in dealing with Netherlandish painting (more often referred to as Flemish) is that they have far more similarity than differences as to the various artists' work. That, coupled with the tendency of second-tier artists to be anonymous, yet quite accomplished in their work, is what keeps art historians up at night.

Earthly Vanity and Divine Salvation, 1485, Hans Memling.
Though a triptych, it's definitely not an altarpiece.
Memling painted it for the Loiani family of Bologna.