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Levy , Vol. VI, p. Kristin A. Mortimer and William G. I, pp. XXXI, no. Maryan W. John Oliver Hand and Ron Spronk, ed. Royal Museum of Fine Arts Antwerp. The progressions in northern art developed almost simultaneously with the early Italian Renaissance. The philosophical and artistic traditions of the Mediterranean were not however part of the northern heritage, to the extent that many elements of Latin culture were actively disparaged in the north.

Local religious trends had a strong influence on early northern art, as can be seen in the subject matter, composition and form of many late 13th- and early 14th-century artworks. While devotional paintings — especially altarpieces — remained dominant in Early Netherlandish art, [] secular portraiture became increasingly common in both northern and southern Europe as artists freed themselves from the prevailing idea that portraiture should be restricted to saints and other religious figures. In Italy this development was tied to the ideals of humanism. Italian influences on Netherlandish art are first apparent in the late 15th century, when some of the painters began to travel south.

This also explains why a number of later Netherlandish artists became associated with, in the words of art historian Rolf Toman, "picturesque gables, bloated, barrel-shaped columns, droll cartouches, 'twisted' figures, and stunningly unrealistic colours — actually employ[ing] the visual language of Mannerism". As a result, painters became increasingly aware of their status in society: they signed their works more often, painted portraits of themselves, and became well-known figures because of their artistic activities.

The northern masters were greatly admired in Italy.

Prayers and portraits: unfolding the Netherlandish diptych

Memling successfully merged the two styles, exemplified in his Virgin and Child with Two Angels. By the midth-century, however, Netherlandish art was seen as crude; Michelangelo claimed it was appealing only to "monks and friars". By the 17th century, when Bruges had lost its prestige and position as the pre-eminent European trading city the rivers silted and ports were forced to close , the Italians dominated European art.

Religious images came under close scrutiny as actually or potentially idolatrous from the start of the Protestant Reformation in the s. Martin Luther accepted some imagery, but few Early Netherlandish paintings met his criteria. Andreas Karlstadt , Huldrych Zwingli and John Calvin were wholly opposed to public religious images, above all in churches, and Calvinism soon became the dominant force in Netherlandish Protestantism. From , outbursts of reformist iconoclasm broke out across much of Northern Europe.

On 19 August , this wave of mob destruction reached Ghent, where Marcus van Vaernewijck chronicled the events. He wrote of the Ghent Altarpiece being "taken to pieces and lifted, panel by panel, into the tower to preserve it from the rioters". Many thousands of religious objects and artefacts were destroyed, including paintings, sculptures, altarpieces, stained glass, and crucifixes, [] and the survival rate of works by the major artists is low — even Jan van Eyck has only some 24 extant works confidently attributed to him.

The number grows with later artists, but there are still anomalies; Petrus Christus is considered a major artist, but is given a smaller number of works than van Eyck. In general the later 15th-century works exported to southern Europe have a much higher survival rate. Many of the period's artworks were commissioned by clergy for their churches, [] with specifications for a physical format and pictorial content that would complement existing architectural and design schemes.

An idea of how such church interiors might have looked can be seen from both van Eyck's Madonna in the Church and van der Weyden's Exhumation of St Hubert. According to Nash, van der Weyden's panel is an insightful look at the appearance of pre-Reformation churches, and the manner in which images were placed so that they resonated with other paintings or objects. Nash goes on to say that, "any one would necessarily be seen in relation to other images, repeating, enlarging, or diversifying the chosen themes". Because iconoclasts targeted churches and cathedrals, important information about the display of individual works has been lost, and with it, insights about the meaning of these artworks in their own time.

Van der Weyden's The Justice of Trajan and Herkinbald polyptych is perhaps the most significant loss; from records it appears to have been comparable in scale and ambition to the Ghent Altarpiece. It was destroyed by French artillery during the bombardment of Brussels in , and is today known only from a tapestry copy.

There have been significant challenges for art historians in establishing the names of Netherlandish masters and attributing specific works. The historical record is very poor, such that some major artists' biographies are still bare outlines, while attribution is an ongoing and often contentious debate. Even the most widely accepted attributions are typically only as a result of decades of scientific and historical research originating from after the start of the 20th century.

The avenues for research have been limited by many historical factors. Many archives were destroyed in bombing campaigns in the two world wars, and a great number of works for which records do exist are themselves lost or destroyed. Because Jan van Eyck's life is well documented in comparison to his contemporary painters, and because he was so clearly the period's innovator, a great number of works were attributed to him after art historians began to research the period.

Today Jan is credited with about 26—28 extant works. This reduced number in part follows from the identification of other midth-century painters such as van der Weyden, Christus and Memling, [] while Hubert, so highly regarded by lateth-century critics, is now relegated as a secondary figure with no works definitively attributed to him. Many early Netherlandish masters have not been identified, and are today known by "names of convenience", usually of the "Master of The practice lacks an established descriptor in English, but the " notname " term is often used, a derivative of a German term.

Many unidentified lateth- and earlyth-century northern artists were of the first rank, but have suffered academic neglect because they have not been attached to any historical person; as Nash puts it, "much of what cannot be firmly attributed remains less studied". The identities of a number of well-known artists have been founded on the basis of a single signed, documented or otherwise attributed work, from which follow further attributions based on technical evidence and geographical proximity. The lack of surviving theoretical writing on art and recorded opinion from any of the preth-century major artists presents still more difficulties in attribution.

Arts S Devotional Diptych Essay

Nash believes a more probable explanation for the absence of theoretical writing on art outside Italy is that the northern artists did not yet have the language to describe their aesthetic values, or saw no point in explaining in writing what they had achieved in painting. Surviving 15th-century appreciations of contemporary Netherlandish art are exclusively written by Italians, the best known of which include Cyriacus Ancona in , Bartolomeo Facio in , and Giovanni Santi in The dominance of Northern Mannerism in the midth century was built on a subversion of the conventions of Early Netherlandish art, which in turn fell out of public favour.

Yet it remained popular in some royal art collections; Mary of Hungary and Philip II of Spain both sought out Netherlandish painters, sharing a preference for van der Weyden and Bosch. Giorgio Vasari in and Karel van Mander c. Both writers were instrumental in forming later opinion about the region's painters, with emphasis on van Eyck as the innovator. The Netherlandish painters were largely forgotten in the 18th century. More large panels were added to the collection after the French conquered the Low Countries.

Subjecting the works to meticulous analysis and examination in the course of acquisition, based on distinguishing characteristics of individual artists, he established an early scholarly system of classification. In the Belgian Revolution split Belgium from the Netherlands of today; as the newly created state sought to establish a cultural identity, Memling's reputation came to equal that of van Eyck in the 19th century. Memling was seen as the older master's match technically, and as possessing a deeper emotional resonance.

Netherlandish art became popular with museum-goers in the late 19th century. At the beginning of the 20th century, van Eyck and Memling were the most highly regarded, with van der Weyden and Christus little more than footnotes. Later many of the works then attributed to Memling were found to be from van der Weyden or his workshop. In , Bruges hosted the first exhibition of Netherlandish art with 35, visitors, an event that was a "turning point in the appreciation of early Netherlandish art".

Nevertheless, van Eyck and van der Weyden, to an extent, were then considered the first rank of Netherlandish artists. The Bruges exhibition renewed interest in the period and initiated scholarship that was to flourish in the 20th century. Johan Huizinga was the first historian to place Netherlandish art squarely in the Burgundian period — outside of nationalistic borders — suggesting in his book The Waning of the Middle Ages , published in , that the flowering of the school in the early 15th century resulted wholly from the tastes set by the Burgundian court.

The undertaking proved extremely difficult, given the scant historical record of even the most significant artists. Writing in the United States, Panofsky made the work of the German art historians accessible to the English-speaking world for the first time. He effectively legitimized Netherlandish art as a field of study, and raised its status to something similar to the early Italian renaissance.

Panofsky was one of the first art historians to abandon formalism.

Panofsky was the first scholar to connect the work of Netherlandish painters and illuminators, noticing the considerable overlap. He considered the study of manuscripts to be integral to the study of panels, though in the end came to view illumination as less significant than panel painting — as a prelude to the truly significant work of the northern artists of the 15th and 16th centuries.

They were key in identifying sources of iconography and ascribing attribution, or at least differentiating anonymous masters under names of convenience. More recent research from art historians such as Lorne Campbell relies on X-ray and infrared photography to develop an understanding of the techniques and materials used by the painters. Examination of paint layers and underlayers was later applied to other Netherlandish works, allowing for more accurate attributions.

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Van Eyck's work, for example, typically shows underdrawings unlike Christus' work. These discoveries, too, hint at the relationships between the masters of the first rank and those in the following generations, with Memling's underdrawings clearly showing van der Weyden's influence. Scholarship since the s has tended to move away from a pure study of iconography, instead emphasizing the paintings' and artists' relation to the social history of their time.

Panofsky had never really talked about what kind of people these were. Most recent scholarship is moving away from the focus on religious iconography; instead, it investigates how a viewer is meant to experience a piece, as with donor paintings that were meant to elicit the feeling of a religious vision.

James Marrow thinks the painters wanted to evoke specific responses, which are often hinted at by the figures' emotions in the paintings. From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. Work of artists active in the Low Countries during the 15th- and 16th-century Northern Renaissance. See also: List of Early Netherlandish painters. Jan van Eyck , Portrait of a Man in a Turban , ; possible self-portrait. National Gallery , London. Cornelis Cort , portrait of Rogier van der Weyden , Anonymous, The Cambrai Madonna , c Cambrai Cathedral , France.

This small c. Geertgen tot Sint Jans , Man of Sorrows , c. Museum Catharijneconvent , Utrecht. One of the finest examples of the " Man of Sorrows " tradition, this complex panel has been described as an "unflinching, yet emotive depiction of physical suffering" [92]. See also: Ghent-Bruges school. Art historians consider similarities of theme, style, iconography, biblical source and physical location before attributing work to an individual or workshop, then assign a generic name. Highlights recent instances where institutions in the French-speaking parts of Belgium have refused to loan painters to exhibitions labelled "Flemish".

The Metropolitan Museum of Art. Schriftlicher Nachlass , Volume 3. Berlin, Retrieved 12 January University of Massachusetts.


Chronicle , University of Massachusetts, 14 April Acres, Alfred. Artibus et Historiae , Volume 21, No. Maryan Ainsworth, et al. New York: Metropolitan Museum, a. New York: Metropolitan Museum, b. Speculum , Volume 47, No. John Hand and Ron Spronk eds. The Burlington Magazine , Volume , No. The Fifteenth-Century Netherlandish Paintings. London: National Gallery, Van der Weyden.

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The Catcher in the Rye Symbolism, Imagery, Allegory

Early Netherlandish Painting. Translated by Heinz Norden. Leiden: Praeger, — Toledo, Ohio, From Van Eyck to Bruegel. First pub. Prayers and Portraits: Unfolding the Netherlandish Diptych. The Art Bulletin , Volume 66, No. London: Laurence King Publishing, Panofsky and the Foundations of Art History. The Waning of the Middle Ages. Oxford: Benediction, , edition.

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