WE possess many works of Memlinc, more than of any other Netherlander of the fifteenth century. His art is conveniently accessible. Together at Bruges are undisputed works by his hand, some of which are signed. They make a deep impression there, like the fairest home-grown bloom--even though the master was not a native of the town--and their charm was felt even when the general understanding of Netherlandish painting was still in embryo.
The master's oeuvre has increased and has continued to increase year by year. Niggling criticism has had little success. The oeuvre remained close-knit, composed of similar parts with nowhere a gap into which the critical knife could be inserted.
Memlinc is documented at Bruges as early as 14661From an entry in the Bruges Burgesses' Book published by R. A. Parmentier ( Indices op de Brugsche Poorterboeken, Bruges 1938, I, p. xxxvi) it is now known that Memlinc was born at Seligenstadt, a small town in the Mainz area, and became a burgess at Bruges on January 30, 1465. where he worked until his death in 1494 apparently without any considerable interruptions. As he is almost always referred to as Hans not Jan we are justified in regarding him as of German origin. The diary of Rombout de Doppere, a notary of the church of St. Donatian, Bruges, contains under the year 1494 the following entry: Die XI augusti, Brugis obiit magister Johannes Memmelinc, quem praedicabant peritissimum fuisse et excellentissimum pictorem totius tunc orbis christiani. Oriundus erat Mogunciaco (Mainz), sepultus Brugis ad aegidii. Since there is a village Mömlingen in the Mainz area we can assume that the master, or at any rate his family, came from that place.1
To establish the year of his birth we have only the unreliable clue to his age contained in a self-portrait presumably painted in 1468. It is at least probable that the altarpiece which he painted for the Englishman John Donne, owned by the Duke of Devonshire (now at Chatsworth), originated in 1468, when the wedding of Charles the Bold and Margaret of York was being celebrated at Bruges, for which occasion distinguished Englishmen in close touch with the court came to Bruges, and I consider it certain that the man standing modestly behind the pillar on the left wing of the altarpiece, near his patron saint John the Baptist, is a self- portrait. If we note that Memlinc looks about thirty-five here, we can infer from this that he was born about 1433 though admittedly the con-