Born in Ghent. Joined the Guild of St. Luke. Worked in Ghent, 1475 in the monastery Redesdale. Continued the artistic tradition of the Dutch painting of the first half of the XV century.
His most famous work is the large altarpiece "adoration of the shepherds", or "Portinari Altar", which was written CA. 1475 by order of Tommaso Portinari, the representative of the Medici Bank in Bruges and had a profound influence on Florentine painters: Ghirlandaio, Leonardo da Vinci etc.
After completion of the work, the artist took monastic orders in the monastery Redesdale near Brussels.
One of the most talented and original masters of Dutch painting of the XV century, is one of the closest approaching to the Italian Renaissance. Information about the life of van der goes is extremely poor. Perhaps he was born in Ghent, where he later joined the Guild of painters and became its Dean. In 1475, at the height of fame, he suddenly entered the Augustinian monastery of Rode, near Brussels, where he spent the last years of his life, marred by mental illness.
Creative heritage of the master is small: about 12 pieces. Most famous triptych "adoration of the shepherds", later called the Portinari Altarpiece (1474 - 78), was made by order of the Florentine merchant Tommaso Portinari for the Church of Santa Maria Novella in Florence. This work affects not only the skillful connection of the greatness of conception and perfection of execution, but also the psychological depth of the figures in the transmission of attitudes from the awe of the shepherds to the divine sadness of Mary.
In the later works of van der goes there is a buildup of drama, silent focus and detachment of the images gives way to passion and emotion (last one "assumption of the virgin"). His art is pathetic and comes to extreme manifestations of the mental state of the person.
In the second half of 1470-ies of the Italian merchant Tommaso Portinari, for many years representing the interests of the Medici Bank in the Netherlands, in one of his visits to his native Florence donated the Church of Santa Maria Nuova altarpiece. A huge triptych, a height of two and a half meters and a width of about six meters at the open side leaves, immediately attracted the attention of the Florentines. The eyes were part of the Church on the day of a religious festival, when the flaps of the altar was ajar, with a beautiful and exciting spectacle. The picture passed the scene of the adoration of the Christ child. In the Central part around lying on the ground the tiny figures of the newborn Christ, at some distance from him, as if afraid to break the invisible halo of radiance emanating from the divine infant, in the prayer reverently knelt down, the angels. Madonna, St. Joseph and the shepherds who came to worship the Christ after an angel appeared to them with the gospel. On the side wings of the triptych the viewer is seen donators - Tommaso Portinari and his wife Maria Baroncelli, and their children, accompanied by patron saints honored to witness a wonderful event. The earth people and the people of Paradise have teamed up in this scene of worship. Without breaking the unity environment, the artist, however, color, cool bluish and white tones, depriving of the figure physicality, have identified a group of angels and Christ as belonging to the heavenly world. A solemn, silent sadness emanated from the picture and the mood it was not monotonous, it arose from a range of experiences of participants from the tender sadness of the angels and Madonna to the ecstatic rush of the shepherds. Each of the viewers were impacted by the spiritual power emanating from these large-sized, weighty and convincing expression of the transferred figures. Two points especially strongly struck the imagination of the Italian spectators. The person depicted could not be called beautiful, not touched the heroic idealization inherent in the images of Italian art, but significant and attractive made them print intense spiritual experiences, preobrajenska features. Almost demonstrative courage is embodied in the image of shepherds, whose rude vulgar face literally illuminated by the inner light of the awakening of the spiritual life. What was surprising was that, in this work a monumental scale combined with the loving and tactile exact transfer phenomena of the material world, be it the face, texture and pattern fabrics, jewelry, clothes of angels or flower. In whole world pictures, all found their natural place: and the people, and the saints, and the street North of the city, and the marvelous lyrical landscape, and floral still life in the foreground, where two bouquet of irises, lilies and bells by traditional religious symbols point to the coming suffering of the mother of God and Christ.
The author of the great triptych was Hugo van der goes, one of the greatest masters of Dutch painting of the 15th century. In 1474 becoming Dean of the painters ' Guild. The work of Hugo van der goes was varied. Like most Dutch artists of the 15th century, he not only wrote altarpieces and portraits, but he played the role of decorator. Around 1475, at the height of glory and honor, Hugo van der goes has suddenly entered the Augustinian monastery near Brussels Roode. Last years masters lit a few more due to the surviving chronicle of the monastery. From it we learn that the artist suffered from a serious mental illness. Despite the tormenting of his illness, Gus left his art and it has not lost its creative power. The fame of the artist went beyond the walls of the cloister, he continued to fulfill the orders of dignitaries. There, in the monastery Roode, Hugo van der goes died in 1482.
Biography of HUS is known even less, than the facts of his life. Range of works, reliably associate with the name of the master, small. The artist never signed or dated their works; sometimes, as in the case of the altar of the Portinari, the authorship and time of creation of the work help to set the documents. It is unknown who was the direct teacher of the artist. But it is clear that the creative work of such masters as Hugo van der goes, is related to the art of his great predecessors Jan van Eyck and Rogier van der Weyden, which became milestones in the development of Netherlandish painting of the 15th century.
Hugo van der goes has built on the achievements of his predecessors and developed them further. The artist with great freedom reports the space which becomes in his paintings the authentic environment action scenes unfold in depth, and not just in a narrow strip in the foreground or parallel to the picture plane as usual before. The figures in the works of HUS written a weighty, material and more anatomical credibility. Probably, the artist had the opportunity to draw from nature, as evidenced, in particular, associated with his name drawing studies (Paris, Louvre), executed with a dead body. The tradition of building the altar paintings Gus brought to full awareness of monumentality: the Portinari altar stands comparison with the Italian frescoes of the Quattrocento. In his work is the perfect production. In the Gus is a man, and his images are unknown before the Dutch art pornotravestis. The experiences of the characters goes real and human, they are earthly and concrete, due to the nature, degree of involvement in the action, the correlation with the living conditions. No coincidence that his paintings appear in folk styles. Print mental strain, owned by the artist, is all his work, increasing in later works. Art HUS frankly pathetic. Revealing the richness of the spiritual life of man, the master boldly included in the orbit of his art is its extreme manifestation. In the images of the shepherds from the Portinari altarpiece and the song `adoration of the shepherds` (Berlin-Dahlem Art gallery) the simple joy of introducing them to the wonder of the people and of the people is brought to rapturous ecstasy. Joyful and tragic experience, the artist brings to ultimate expression: the sorrow of the apostles in the painting "assumption of the virgin" (Bruges, groeninge Museum) turns into dark despair. The troubled soul of the artist, it was alien to the harmonious Union of opposites. The desire for a life of specificity is combined in the later works of HUS with attraction to mysticism in his art is the separation of the sphere of religious beliefs and earthly human life first gets his incarnation in the form of visions or theatrical performances. This is a unique composition `the adoration of the shepherds` (Berlin-Dahlem), where in the foreground the artist painted half figures of prophets, support the ends of diluted curtain, allowing you to see the main action, upbeat, as on the stage. The art of Hugo van der goes was duly appreciated by his contemporaries and the home of the artist, and abroad in Italy; his work undoubtedly represents the most significant phenomenon of Dutch painting of the second half of the 15th century.