A R T H I S TO RY
ARTISTS AND THEIR PATRONS
for the English King Richard II), was produced in England or France. However by 1400 CE a few artists, who enjoyed the patronage of wealthy individuals, were beginning to be identified by name with artworks being specifically One such artist was Flemish painter Jan van Eyck (c.1390- 1441), who, along with his Brother Hubert (c.1385-1426), produced the Ghent altarpiece. Records show that Jan van Eyck worked first as court painter for John of Bavaria and signed or attributed to a certain ‘hand’ or studio.
then, from 1425 until his death, as court painter and valet de chamber for Philip the Good, Duke of Burgundy. Revealing the high regard with which van Eyck was held by his employer, records indicate that, in 1435, court treasurers were admonished by Philip the Good for not paying the painter, who the Duke argued would leave, ‘and that he would nowhere be able to find his equal in his “art and science.”’ Indeed, such was the prestige of van Eyck’s position that wealthy merchants, members of the clergy and important court officials were also inspired
Throughout the ancient world and Middle Ages an artist producing visual imagery, like a jeweller or stonemason, had the status of a highly skilled craftsman. Artists trained as part of a studio, run by a master artist, who was registered with the local trade guild. This meant that artworks were rarely the result of one ‘hand’ alone. As a result, artists did not see themselves as unique individuals in the production of art. As an example, today it is not known whether the Wilton Diptych (Fig. 1) of c.1395- 9 (which was produced
96 FINE ART COLLECTOR SPRING 2018
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