ca. 1380 - 1444
Painter in the Southern Netherlands (Hainaut), one of the first masters of the Northern Renaissance. He belonged to the so-called Flemish Primitives, the founders of the art of oil painting in the Netherlands.
Based on analysis of paintings, Campin is nowadays considered to be the man previously identified as the Master of Flémalle. However it still is possible that works now attributed to Campin were actually painted by masters in his circle. On the other hand, several paintings that were thought to be made by Rogier van der Weyden are now considered Robert Campin's. Van der Weyden probably was a student of Campin's.
Robert Campin was born in the late 1370's and became a citizen of Tournai (Doornik in Dutch) in 1410. He probably settled in the city earlier, around 1405. He made a living from painting banners and statues. He probably became an important man in the city, receiving commissions from the city government, a number of churches and from rich citizens. He may have had a part in the revolt againt the patrician rulers in 1425-26, because records show he was prosecuted several times. He ran a productive workshop, employing talents such as Rogier van der Weyden and Jacques Daret.
Campin was inspired by contemporaries who illuminated books. Much like his fellow-painter Jan van Eyck, he was one of the first to experiment with paint based on oil rather than on tempera (egg). The use of oil paint enabled him to use much richer colors.
The Mérode altarpiece and the Werl triptych are often considered to be Campin's major works. In art history, Campin is seen as a link between 14th century International Gothic style and 15th century realism in the Netherlands.