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Northern Renaissance
Artists from the Netherlands and Germany
The Northern Renaissance was “Renaissance happenings that
occurred within Europe, but outside of Italy” the most innovative art
was created in France, Germany and the Netherlands during this time,
and because all of these places are north of Italy, the “Northern” tag
has stuck.
Both humanism, a commitment to the search for truth and morality through
human means in support of human interests, and secularism, the social
ideology in which religion and supernatural beliefs are not seen as key to
understanding the world, become the dominant forces shaping society.
While Italian Renaissance depicted the ideal beauty, artists north of Italy
were depicting intense realism using observation over theory to create their
works of art.
The Printing Press
The influence of the printing press was responsible for great changes in
Consider this, the press-enhanced scientific research
-helped spread the Renaissance from Italy to other parts of Europe
-Gutenberg press had the power to mass produce
-the press led to the introduction of public propaganda, used to strengthen
nation states
-broke control of Roman Catholic hierarchy and the Latin speaking priestly
-encouraged authors to write in the local language, further spreading
Renaissance ideas
Important Artists of the Era
Albrecht Durer
"Albrecht Duerer was without
doubt the greatest artist of the
Northern Renaissance. Living
in Nuremberg, half-way
between the Netherlands and
Italy, he found inspiration in
the work of painters of both the
major European artistic
centres of his time. But rather
than simply imitating what
others were doing, Duerer was
very much an innovator. He is,
for example, the first artist who
is known to have painted a
self-portrait and to have done
a landscape painting of a
specific scene.
He was a painter, wood carver
and mathematician.
Durer, Albrecht
Self-portrait at 22 1493
Oil on linen, transferred from vellum
57 x 45 cm Musee du Louvre, Paris
Durer, Albrecht
Self-Portrait at 26 1498
Oil on panel 52 x 41 cm
Museo Nacional del Prado, Madrid
Durer, Albrecht
St Anne with the Virgin and Child 1519
Oil and tempera on canvas, transferred from panel 60 x 50 cm
Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York
Durer, Albrecht Melencolia I
1514 Engraving 24 x 19 cm
Jan van Eyck
(Active from 1422, died 1441)
"Jan van Eyck was the greatest
artist of the early Netherlands
school. He held high positions
throughout his career, including
court painter and diplomat in
Bruges. So outstanding was his
skill as an oil painter that the
invention of the medium was at
one time attributed to him, with his
brother Hubert, also a painter. Van
Eyck exploited the qualities of oil
as never before, building up layers
of transparent glazes, thus giving
him a surface on which to capture
objects in minute detail and
allowing for the preservation of his
Van Eyck, Jan
The Crucifixion and The Last Judgment 1425-30
Oil on canvas transferred from wood
Each panel 22 1/4 x 7 3/4 in. (56.5 x 19.7 cm)
Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York
Van Eyck, Jan
The Ghent altarpiece with doors closed, 1432
Oil on panel Each panel 146.2 x 51.4 cm
Cathedral of St Bavo, Ghent
Van Eyck, Jan
The Ghent altarpiece
The Angel of the Annunciation,1432
Oil on panel This panel 137.7 x 242.3 cm
Cathedral of St Bavon, Ghent
Van Eyck, Jan
The betrothal of the Arnolfini 1434
Oil on wood 81.8 x 59.7 cm
National Gallery, London
Van Eyck, Jan
The Betrothal of the Arnolfini
Detail of dog 1434
Oil on wood
Van Eyck, Jan
The Betrothal of the Arnolfini
Detail of back wall 1434
Oil on wood
Hieronymous Bosch
(c. 1450-1516)
"Hieronymous Bosch produced
some of the most inventive fantasy
paintings that have ever existed. His
obsessive and nightmarish vision
has its antecedents in the Gothic
twilight world of the late Middle Ages
and, although the allegorical
medieval world view is now lost,
there have been many recent
attempts to 'read' his pictures, not
least by those who have attempted
to interpret Bosch by dream
The Extraction of the Stone of Madness
Oil on board
18 7/8 x 13 3/4" (48 x 35 cm)
Museo del Prado, Madrid
The Garden of
Earthly Delights
Bosch's dazzling
ability to build up
a hugely detailed
through a series
of bizarre
and distortions.
Garden of Earthly Delights (center panel)
c. 1504
Triptych, plus shutters
Oil on panel
Central panel, 220 x 195 cm; Wings, 220 x 97 cm
Museo del Prado, Madrid
The complete work
consists of four
paintings on a series
of folding panels; the
outer panel reveals
the Third Day of
Creation when
Garden of Earthly Delights
Outer wings, "Creation of the World"
c. 1504
Triptych, plus shutters
Oil on panel
Central panel, 220 x 195 cm; Wings, 220 x 97 cm
Museo del Prado, Madrid
Inside, The Garden of Earthly
Delights is flanked on the left
by the Garden of Eden and on
the right by Hell.
Garden of Earthly Delights
Left wing, "Paradise"
c. 1504
A wild sexual orgy
features in the central
panel, where lust is
shown to be the cause
of man's downfall.
There are over a
thousand figures in
this work altogether.
Standing alone in its
lifetime, Bosch's work
has a timeless and
modern quality that
greatly endeared him
to Surrealists in the
twentieth century."
Right wing, "Hell"
c. 1504
Hans Holbein
"The knowledge which
Durer strove for so
throughout his life
came more naturally to
Holbein. Coming from a
painter's family (his
father was a respected
master) and being
exceedingly alert, he
soon absorbed the
achievements of both
the northern and the
Italian artists.
Holbein, Hans
Erasmus 1523
Oil on wood
16 1/2 x 12 1/2 in. (42 x 32 cm)
Musee du Louvre, Paris
Holbein, Hans
William Warham, Archbishop of Canterbury 1527
Black, white and colored chalks, with traces of metalpoint
40.7 x 30.9 cm
The Royal Collection, Windsor Castle
Holbein, Hans
The Virgin and Child with the family of Burgomaster
Meyer 1528
Altar-painting; oil on wood 146.5 x 102 cm
Schlossmuseum, Darmstadt
Holbein, Hans
Georg Gisze, a German merchant in London 1532
Oil on wood
96.3 x 85.7 cm (38 x 33 3/4 in.)
Gemaldegalerie, Staatliche Museen, Berlin
Holbein, Hans
The Ambassadors 1533
Oil on wood
207 x 209.5 cm
National Gallery, London
Holbein, Hans
Edward, Prince of Wales 1538-9
57 x 44 cm Oak
National Gallery of Art, Washington
Pieter Bruegel the Elder
"The greatest of the Flemish
sixteenth-century masters of
genre was Pieter Bruegel the
Elder. We know little of his life
except that he had been to Italy,
like so many northern artists of
his time, and that he lived and
worked in Antwerp and Brussels,
where he painted most of his
pictures in the 1560s, the
decade in which the stern Duke
of Alva arrived in the
Netherlands. The dignity of art
and of artists was probably as
important to him as it was to
Dürer or Cellini, for in one of his
splendid drawings he is clearly
out to point a contrast between
the proud painter and the stupidlooking bespectacled man who
fumbles in his purse as he peers
over the artist's shoulder.
The painter and the buyer
c. 1565
Landscape with the Fall of Icarus
c. 1558
Oil on canvas, mounted on wood
73.5 x 112 cm
Musees Royaux des Beaux-Arts de Belgique, Brussels
Bruegel, Pieter
The Adoration of the Kings 1564
Oil on canvas
111 x 83.5 cm
The National Gallery, London
Bruegel, Pieter
The Hunters in the Snow 1565
Oil on panel 117 x 162 cm
Kunsthistorisches Museum Wien, Vienna
Bruegel, Pieter
The Hunters in the Snow
DETAIL OF soaring bird 1565 Oil on panel
117 x 162 cm
Kunsthistorisches Museum Wien, Vienna
Bruegel, Pieter
The Hunters in the Snow
DETAIL OF the fire in front of the inn 1565
Oil on panel
117 x 162 cm
Kunsthistorisches Museum Wien, Vienna
Bruegel, Pieter
Peasant wedding c. 1568 Oil on wood
114 x 164 cm (45 x 64 1/2 in.)
Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna