Born in Zelingenstadt near Frankfurt am Main around 1440. He probably studied first in Cologne and then in Brussels under Rogier van der Weyden. In 1465 he settled in Bruges, in 1467 joined the artists' guild there. Memling died in Bruges on August 11, 1494. Memling’s patrons and customers lived throughout Europe, but his most famous works were made for the hospital of St. John in Bruges.
What title did he come from? Who were his parents? Where did he learn the basics of mastery? There are no answers to these questions. Even the record of Memling’s baptism has not been preserved. In the second half of the 1450s, the young man beckoned the road. At first he was going to stay in Cologne. We can speak with confidence about the influence of two Cologne masters, Stefan Lochner and an unknown painter, usually called by the Master of St. Veronica ››.
Thus, in Brussels, one of the most brilliant cities in the Netherlands, our hero has already arrived partly by savvy ›› artistically. Therefore, upon arrival, he did not lose his head, but went straight to the workshop of Rogier van der Weyden. There is no documentary evidence of the fact that he studied in this workshop. But the traces of studying with Rogier van der Weyden in Memling’s works look through every now and then. Rogier van der Weyden became famous in the days when Memling was a child. The rumor about his ‹‹ Dismissing from the cross ›› by the time Memling appeared in Brussels managed to fly around almost the whole of Europe. There were no other significant workshops in Brussels in those years.
There is evidence that Memling was close to the court of Charles the Bold. This proximity can also be viewed as evidence of his studies at Rogier van der Weyden, since the younger artist, and even a foreigner, could hardly be interested in the resplendent dukes. At this time, the old master lived out his last years. He almost did not write and did not have the strength to pay much attention to his workshop. Memling, being the most talented student of Rogier, was the "pillar" of the ›› of this workshop. Some researchers even say that he actually led it in the early 1460s.
Almost immediately after the death of Rogier, in 1464, Memling left Brussels and moved to Bruges, which became the end point of his wanderings. In 1465, he was already a full-fledged citizen of Bruges, a householder and family man, then a member of the local guild of St. Luke. Further, his life flowed quite peacefully. From his wife, Anna Falkenara, he had three sons: Jan, Cornelis and Nicholas. In 1480, he bought a stone house, followed by two more for lease. His financial situation was very good. In 1487, the artist became a widow, and seven years later, in August 1494, he himself went down after his wife to the grave and was buried in the cemetery attached to the church of Saint Gilles.
The end of the 1460s — the first half of the 1470s can be called the quietest time in Memling’s life. He was rich, sought after, revered. And it even belonged to the Pillow of Our Lady of the Snow ››, which was considered to be honorable, because Karl Bold himself was a member of it. By the 1480s, Memling remained the sole custodian of the old traditions of Dutch painting. And in general — the only major master in Flanders (Bosch was just beginning his career). It was no longer the same ›uniqueness ››, which the master once dreamed of, but genuine spiritual loneliness, although it was enhanced by wealth and reverence of fellow citizens.