Geertgen tot Sint Jans

Geertgen tot Sint Jans (c 1460 in Leyden, Netherlands – c 1490 in Haarlem, Netherlands, sometimes known as Gerrit Gerritsz), was a 15th century Dutch painter active in Haarlem. His name means "little Gerard of the order of St. John". His relatively short life (roughly 28 years) and his limited output have resulted in him being poorly known. However the roughly 15 works attributed him are noted to be both distinctive and memorable.

Geertgen tot Sint Jans reached a personal style at early age. It has been recorded that Albrecht Dürer said of Geertgen "Truly he was a painter in his mother's womb".

A good portion of our knowledge about Geertgen comes from the writings of Carel Van Mander's book, The Painter's Book published in 1604. Writing over a hundred years after Geertgen's death the accuracy of the information is unknown, but Mander reported that he was a student of Albert Van Ouwater and he also records the creation of one of his most famous paintings is Geschiedenis van het gebeente (beenderen) van Johannes de Doper, or, The Legend of the Relics of St. John the Baptist. It was part of a larger triptych for an altar of the Knights of St. John at Haarlem. It was destroyed during the siege of Haarlem in 1573, but parts were saved. The scenes that have survived show more than one episode of a story in a picture and are of biblical scenes. As is typical of the art of the time it was done primarily on oak panels with oil paints made by mixing pigments with drying oil. This allowed the painter to build up layers of paint to provide different visual effects.