VAN MANDER counts Dieric Bouts to the Dutch painters and mentions him together with Ouwater and Geertgen. He found a trace of him at Haarlem. There, in the Cruysstraet, not far from the orphanage, he was shown the house where Dieric Bouts was supposed to have lived. The only painting by the artist that he was able to see--at the house of Gerritsz Buytewegh at Leyden--bore an inscription saying that it had been painted at Louvain in 1462 by Dieric Bouts, a native of Haarlem. As a matter of fact we do find a Dieric Bouts at Louvain who worked for that city between 1450 (?) and 1475 and was twice married.
The documented and accredited work that he executed between 1464 and 1468 for the church of St. Peter at Louvain, the altarpiece of the Sacrament, has survived and forms the basis for constructive stylistic criticism.
In view of the master's origin various qualities of his art have from time to time been singled out as national Dutch. The danger of getting caught in a vicious circle is obvious enough when we consider that, apart from Dieric Bouts, we know next to nothing about Dutch painting prior to 1450.
Dieric's style, as we know it in Louvain, is in some respects dependent on Rogier's model. Whether or not we go so far as to assume that Bouts came to Louvain from Haarlem via Brussels, spending some time in Rogier's workshop on the way, the Rogier formula is in any case an element that must be eliminated if we wish to appreciate the personal and the Dutch elements in his style.
The Louvre owns a Lamentation which from stylistic evidence can be attributed to Bouts but which in its compositional motifs derives from Rogier. The stiff, rigid body of Christ lying diagonally on the Virgin's lap is--unnaturally--turned to the front, towards the picture surface, in a manner similar to that in Rogier's altarpiece of the Virgin at Granada.
In the altarpiece at Granada and in the altarpiece of St. John in Berlin, the Brussels master developed a particular type of altarpiece. The main scenes are enclosed in a Gothic portal framework and the painted sculpture, in the small groups of the intrados, contains a rich narrative material. I do not doubt that this mode of composition was very much in