Rogier van der Weyden's early training and occupation are unknown; in his twenty-seventh year, he entered the workshop of Robert Campin, the dean of the painters' guild of Tournai. Rogier remained Campin's assistant for five years and then became an independent master in the guild. From Campin, Rogier adopted the detailed realism that characterizes his works. At age thirty-six Rogier settled in Brussels, his wife's native city. Soon, the city council made him city painter, which led to numerous public and private commissions. Rogier operated a large workshop with many assistants, including his son Pieter, who succeeded him as city painter in Brussels.
Rogier quickly established an international reputation and received many commissions from foreign dignitaries. He spent a year in Italy, where he painted for distinguished families such as the Este in Ferrara and the Medici in Florence. Rogier's impact extended far beyond his immediate circle of artists; his dramatic, highly emotional paintings influenced every Netherlandish painter of the following generation.