Robert Campin was a key innovator in shifting the early Netherlandish school from the Gothic and into the Renaissance. Although his life in Tournai is well recorded, none of his documented works survives in adequate condition to serve as a basis for attributing other paintings to him. Scholars generally accept, however, that a number of paintings grouped as the work of the Master of Flémalle are Campin's. Nothing certain is known of his artistic training and background.
From 1408 to 1441, the municipality frequently employed Campin for banners and other decorative ephemera, as well as decorations for government buildings and churches. Successful and wealthy, he was a deacon of the painters' guild, a leading spokesman for Tournai's bourgeoisie, and head of a sizeable workshop.
Campin humanized subject matter, breaking with the aristocratic taste and romantic mood of the ornamental International style to portray the Annunciation taking place in a contemporary middle-class Tournai home. The sculptural solidity and naturalistic detail of his style show sculptor Claus Sluter's influence. Campin's influence, mediated through his pupil Rogier van der Weyden, was widespread.