The History of Art And The Curious Lives of Famous Painters


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Major Painters of the Northern Renaissance

Important Northern Renaissance  Artists

Hieronymus Bosch (1453 - 1516) Dutch
Dieric Bouts the Elder (1413-1475) Dutch
Pieter Brueghel the Elder (1525 - 1569) Flemish
Pieter Brueghel the Younger (1564 - 1638) Flemish
Lucas Cranach the Elder (1472 - 1553) German
Albrecht Dürer (1471 - 1528)  German
Matthias Grünewald (1434-1494) Flemish
Hans Holbein the Younger (1497-1543) German
Quentin Massys (1466–1530  Flemish, Northern Renaissance
Rogier van der Weyden (1399-1464) Dutch
Jan van Eyck (1385 - 1441) Flemish


The Northern Renaissance was a time of  great intellectual and spiritual awakening.  French, German and Netherlandish painters took leadership in the development of a new style of painting while retaining strong Gothic elements within their art-work. The political and religious situation of the region had a profound influence on painters. The ensuing chaos and upheaval of the church meant that there was no single artistic nucleus. Thus there were a number of places where influential art was being created, with regional variations in technique and style.

The early 1500s  saw the demise of feudalism and patronage shifted from super wealthy church to the merchant class.  Businessmen, tradesmen and prosperous women of the merchant class began collecting and commissioning works of art. These new patrons favored paintings that included domestic scenes, peasants at work and play, fantastical landscapes, dogs, cats, birds, children and household goods.

 Italian painters of the era were very interested in the techniques of the Northern painters. Oil painting was discovered in the North and spread quickly to Italy, France and Spain. Famous Northern Renaissance painter, Albrecht Dürer stated "I have many good friends among the Italians who warn me not to eat and drink with their painters, for many of them are my enemies and copy my work in the churches and wherever they can find it; afterwards they criticize it and claim that it is not done in the antique style and say it is no good, but Bellini has praised me highly to many gentlemen. He would willingly have something of mine, and came himself to me and asked me to do something for him, and said that he would pay well for it, and everyone tells me what an upright man he is, so that I am really friendly with him. He is very old and yet he is the best painter of all."

One of the major difference between Italian Renaissance and Northern Renaissance is that Northern painters rejected decadent Greek and Roman influences, focusing more on domestic scenes, satire, and philosophical themes .  Humanism was  emerging, and religious devotion, though still an important part of people's lives, was being restructured to accommodate the belief that man can be master his own  fate. 

Key Descriptive Words  and Phrases associated with Painters of the Northern Renaissance
rebirth, Antwerp, commerce, northern Europe, merchant class, Bruges, genre painting, landscapes, portraits, scenes of daily life, Christian symbolism. moralizing overtones, human vices, lust,  publication of Della Pittura, a book about the laws of mathematical perspective for artists,  spiritually significant,  illuminated manuscript,  idealized biblical themes, scriptorium, illuminator,  Age of Discovery, axonometric drawing, curiosity about the natural world,  realistic use of colors and  light, allegorical, Gospel parables, The Blackdeath,  landscapes with peasants



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