Gerard David was probably born in Oudewater; exactly when he emigrated from this north Netherlandish town near Haarlem to the southern Netherlands is not known. He may have spent a period of time in Dieric Bouts's Leuven workshop, which continued under Bouts's sons, Aelbert and Dieric the Younger. In 1484 David registered in the Bruges painters' guild, and he subsequently held several official posts in that organization. Although In 1515 he also registered in the Antwerp painters' guild, David continued to live in Bruges until his death.
Two documented works, the Justice of Cambyses of 1498 and the Virgin among Virgins of 1509, form the linchpins of David's oeuvre, around which many other paintings with similar characteristics have been grouped. David enjoyed a thriving business serving both local and foreign clients, and he was at the forefront of artists who standardized working procedures in order to facilitate production of paintings for sale on the open market.
Although David perpetuated the stylistic traditions of other north Netherlandish artists who had settled in the southern provinces (particularily van Eyck and Dieric Bouts), he was also influenced to some degree by the works of Hugo van der Goes and Hans Memling and was open to Italian ideas as well.
From the Lamentation Triptych: