Christus probably came from Baerle, a village in the duchy of Brabant, near the present Dutch-Belgian border. In July 1444 he purchased citizenship in Bruges to become a master. Nine of his works are signed and dated between 1446 and 1457, the earliest being the Portrait of a Carthusian. That both Christus and his wife, Gaudicine, belonged to the illustrious Bruges Confraternity of Our Lady of the Dry Tree suggests not only that they enjoyed high social status but also that Christus was well positioned to attract important commissions.
Little is known about Christus's training. He had a talent for assimilating motifs as well as methods of execution and was, above all, influenced by the art of Jan van Eyck. Christus's meticulous technique is related to that of manuscript illumination; he was most assured and accomplished working on a diminutive scale, but he became increasingly adept at describing the volume of figures in large works. His attempts to convincingly render one-point perspective in his paintings culminated in the Virgin and Child with Saints Jerome and Francis, dated 1457 (Städelsches Kunstinstitut, Frankfurt).
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