Rogier van der Weyden (1399/1400 - 1464) is one of the central figures of early Northern European painting, along with Jan van Eyck (ca. 1390/1400 - 1441).
Rogier van der Weyden was born around 1399, the son of a knife manufacturer, Henri de le Pasture, and his wife, Agnes de Watrelos. He was born in Tournai, a city located in present-day Belgium near the French border, the only Belgian city to have ever been ruled by England (briefly, between 1513 and 1519, well after van der Weyden's death).
In about 1427, van der Weyden married a Miss Elisabeth Goffaert (c. 1405-1477), the daughter of a well-to-do shoemaker from Brussels named Jan Goffaert. The couple went on to have four children - Cornelius, Margaretha, Pieter and Jan - and it is believed that they settled in Brussels after living in Tournai for a few years.
Unlike many of his contemporaries, van der Weyden is believed to have entered the painting profession later in life, perhaps when he was in his early thirties.
Records indicate that a certain Rogelet de le Pasture (a French translation of Rogier van der Weyden) was the apprentice of the mysterious Master of Flémalle, possibly identifiable as Robert Campin.
Art historians and researchers speculate that the paintings Virgin and Child, St. Catherine of Alexandria, and The Visitation should be attributed to van der Weyden as works he completed shortly before leaving Campin's workshop to open his own.
It was also during his middle years that van der Weyden was named the town painter for Brussels, in May 1436. From here, his fame spread and he began to receive commissions from the likes of Leonello d'Este, Marquis of Ferrara and John II, King of Castile.
Van der Weyden was not only a prominent painter in Brussels but also a savvy investor. His wise investments in Brussels and Tournai provided for his family handsomely and allowed him to make a number of charitable monetary and artistic donations to the Carthusian monasteries (or charterhouses) in Scheut and Herinnes, where his son was a monk.
Van der Weyden remained prolific during his later years, acting as one of the administrators of the infirmary and charitable foundation Ter Kisten in Brussels and a member of the Confraternity of the Holy Cross. He died in Brussels in 1464 and was buried in St. Gudula Church, now referred to as St. Michael's Cathedral.