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Early Netherlandish painting is the work of those painters who were active in the Low Countries during the 15th and early 16th century Northern renaissance, especially in the flourishing cities of Brugesmarker and Ghentmarker. It begins approximately with the career of Jan van Eyck, who was already championed as the "new Apelles" of northern European painting by Karel van Mander at the turn of the 17th century, and ends with Gerard David around 1520.

The period corresponds to the early and high Italian Renaissance, but it is seen as an independent artistic culture from the Renaissance humanism that characterises simultaneous developments in central Italy. Because Early Netherlandish painters embody both the culmination of Mediaeval artistic heritage in northern Europe and respond to Renaissance ideals, their art is categorized as belonging to both the Early Renaissance and the Late Gothic.

The painting of the period made significant advances in illusionism, following the highly detailed works of Jan van Eyck, and often features complex iconography. Subjects are mostly iconic religious scenes or small portraits; narrative painting is far rarer than in Italy, as are mythological figures.

Designation



Early Netherlandish painting and painters are known in a variety of ways, with Late Gothic and the Flemish Primitives remaining other common designations. Some art historians also use the term Ars nova ("new art"), which has its source in music history. "Late Gothic", for instance, emphasizes the continuity with the Middle Ages. "Flemish Primitives", on the other hand, is a traditional art historical term that came into fashion in the 19th century and is still a primary label in other languages such as Dutch, Spanish and French (from which it originally came into English). "Primitives" in this case, does not refer to a lack of sophistication; instead, it identifies the artists as the origin of a new tradition in painting, one noted, for example, with the use of oil paint, instead of tempera. Following the lead of Max Jakob Friedländer, Erwin Panofsky, Otto Pächt, and other German language scholarship, however, English-language art historians more generally discuss the period as "Early Netherlandish painting" (German: Altniederländische Malerei).

During the 15th to mid 16th centuries the modern national borders of Francemarker, Germanymarker, Belgiummarker and The Netherlandsmarker did not exist. Flanders, which now specifically refers to distinct parts of Belgiummarker, and other areas of the region were under the control of the Dukes of Burgundy and, later, the Habsburg dynasty. Because Brugesmarker and Ghentmarker—both Flemish cities—were the main centres of international banking, trade, and art in the region, painters and merchants, not all of whom were actually locally-born, congregated in them. Consequently, Flemish and Netherlandish (that is, "of the Low Countries") became interchangeable terms based on the location of the dominant cities. Moreover, art historians often include the artistic traditions of Cologne and other Lower Rhinemarker centres within the same context, or note that painters like Geertgen tot Sint Jans were active in the northern Netherlands and not Flanders. A further point of contention, one that still poses issues in Belgium, are the linguistically-French origins of many painters, such as Rogier van der Weyden. The German Hans Memling and the Estonian Michael Sittow are examples of immigrant artists who worked in the Netherlands in a fully Netherlandish style. The use of the term "Early Netherlandish painting", as well more general descriptors like "Ars nova" and the highly-inclusive "Northern Renaissance art", subsequently allows for an broader geographical base for the artists associated with the period than the more inclusive "Flemish". Also, like the concept of the Italian Renaissance itself, it stresses the birth of a new age rather than the culmination of an old one.

Relation to the Italian Renaissance

The new style emerged in Flanders almost simultaneously with the beginning of the Italian Renaissance. The masters were very much admired in Italy, and may have had a bigger influence in Italy than the other way around in the 15th century. For example, Hugo van der Goes's Portinari Altarpiece played an important role in introducing Florentine painters to trends in the north, and artists like Antonello da Messina probably came under the influence of Netherlandish painters working in Sicily, Naplesmarker and later Venicemarker. Early Netherlandish painters were not immune to the innovations in art that were occurring south of the Alps, however. Jan van Eyck, for example, might have travelled to Italy around 1426 to 1428, a trip that would have affected his work on the Ghent Altarpiece, and the international importance of cities like Bruges meant a great influx of foreign influence.

Religious paintings—church decoration or altarpieces for churches and private use, for example—remained popular subjects in both Early Netherlandish and Italian Renaissance painting. The role of Renaissance humanism, however, was not as strong in the north as it was in Italy. Instead, local trends, such as Devotio Moderna are more apparent and had an impact on the subject and format of many artworks. For example, emphasis on the suffering of Christ and other emphatic subject matter was more popular.

Like Florence, where banking and trade led to numerous private commissions, wealthy merchants commissioned religious paintings for private devotion (often including themselves in the form of donor portraits) as well as secular portraits. Additionally, the presence of the Burgundian court, like the situation in Urbinomarker and other Italian cities, allowed court artist to flourish. Painters were also increasingly self-aware of their position in society: they signed their works more often, painted self portraits, and become well-known figures because of their artistic activities alone.

One of the most obvious differences is the influence of classical antiquity. It is far less pronounced in the north, only fully entering Netherlandish painting in the 16th century. Moreover, while in Italy we see radical changes in architecture, sculpture and philosophy as well, the revolution in Netherlandish art is largely restricted to painting. Gothic architecture, for example, remains the dominant style through the 16th century, and even informs the local style of Italian Renaissance architecture when the Italian influences do eventually appear.

As Bruges diminished as an artistic center around 1500, and Antwerpmarker's position increased, one manifestation of the shift is seen in the artists identified as Antwerp Mannerists. Although largely anonymous, and only active from about 1500 to 1530, they mark the end of Early Netherlandish painting and instigate the shift to the next stage. The Antwerp Mannerists are so-called because, although incorporating Italian influence, they were thought to represent a "latent Gothic" still informed by Netherlandish traditions of the preceding century.

For painting in the period after about 1500 and before the Dutch Revolt, see Dutch and Flemish Renaissance painting

List of painters



Timeline by year

See also



External links



References

  1. Panofsky, Erwin. Early Netherlandish Painting. London: Harper Collins, 1971 ISBN 0-06-430002-1
  2. Janson, H.W. Janson's History of Art: Western Tradition. 7th rev. ed.,New York: Prentice Hall. 2006 ISBN 0-13-193455-4
  3. To Giorgio Vasari, for example, all northern painters were "fiamminghi", or "Flemmings".
  4. Hans Vlieghe ("Flemish Art, Does It Really Exist?," in Simiolus: Netherlands Quarterly for the History of Art, vol. 26, 1998, pp. 187-200) points to recent instances where institutions in the French-speaking parts of Belgium have refused to loan painters to exhibitions labeled "Flemish".
  5. The north to south-only direction of influence arose in the scholarship of Max Friedländer and was affirmed by Panofsky; see Lisa Deam, "Flemish versus Netherlandish: A Discourse of Nationalism," in Renaissance Quarterly, vol. 51, no. 1 (Spring, 1998), pp. 1-33. Also noted (pp. 28–29) is the increased interest by art historians in demonstrating the importance of Italian art on Early Netherlandish painters.
  6. Penny Howell Jolly, "Jan van Eyck's Italian Pilgrimage: A Miraculous Florentine Annunciation and the Ghent Altarpiece," Zeitschrift für Kunstgeschichte, vol. 61, no. 3 (1998), pp. 369-394.
  7. Brink, Peter van den, Kristin Lohse Belkin, and Nico van Hout. ExtravagAnt!: A Forgotten Chapter of Antwerp Painting, 1500-1538: Catalogue. Antwerp: Koninklijk Museum voor Schone Kunsten, 2005: This was the language of Mannerism popularised by Walter Friedlaender in his book Mannerism and anti-mannerism in Italian painting, one of the first attempts to define Mannerism.


Further reading

General - Introductory
  • Frere, Jean-Claude. Early Flemish Painting. Vilo International, 1997 ISBN 2-87939-120-2
  • Harbison, Craig. The Mirror of the Artist: Northern Renaissance Art. Prentice Hall, 2003. ISBN 0-13-183322-7
  • Smith, Jeffrey Chips. The Northern Renaissance (Art and Ideas). Phaidon Press, 2004. ISBN 0-7148-3867-5
  • Snyder, James. The Northern Renaissance: Painting, Sculpture, the Graphic Arts from 1350 to 1575. 2nd ed. Prentice Hall, 2004. ISBN 0-13-189564-8
  • de Vos, Dirk. The Flemish Primitives: The Masterpieces. Princeton University Press, 2003 ISBN 0-691-11661-X


General - in depth
  • Ainsworth, Maryan (ed.) Early Netherlandish Painting at the Crossroads: A Critique of Current Methodologies. New York, # Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2002 ISBN 0-300-09368-3
  • Friedländer, Max J. Early Netherlandish Painting. Translated by Heinz Norden. Leiden: Praeger, 1967-76 AISN B0006BQGOW
  • Pächt, Otto. Van Eyck and the Founders of Early Netherlandish Painting. New York: Harvey Miller, 2000 ISBN 1-872501-28-1
  • Pächt, Otto. Early Netherlandish Painting from Rogier van der Weyden to Gerard David. New York: Harvey Miller, 1997 ISBN 1-872501-84-2
  • Ridderbos, Bernhard (ed.) Early Netherlandish Paintings: Rediscovery, Reception, and Research. Getty Trust Publications: J. Paul Getty Museum; new ed. 2005 ISBN 0-89236-816-0
  • Rothstein, Bret Sight and Spirituality in Early Netherlandish Painting (Studies in Netherlandish Visual Culture). Cambridge University Press, 2005. ISBN 0-521-83278-0


Museum catalogs
  • Ainsworth, Maryan M. and Keith Christiansen, eds. From Van Eyck to Bruegel Early Netherlandish Painting in The Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York: Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1998. ISBN 0-300-08609-1
  • Campbell, Lorne. The Fifteenth-Century Netherlandish Paintings. London, National Gallery. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1998. ISBN 0-300-07701-7
  • Hand, John Oliver. Early Netherlandish Painting (The Collections of the National Gallery of Art Systematic Catalogue). Cambridge University Press, 1987. ISBN 0-521-34016-0
  • Hand, John Oliver, Metzger, Catherine, and Spronk, Ron. Prayers and Portraits, Unfolding the Netherlandish diptych. National Gallery of Art, Washington & Yale University Press, 2006. ISBN 0-300-12155-5
  • Hand, John Oliver and Spronk, Ron. Unfolding the Netherlandish Diptych: Essays in Context.Harvard University Art Museums, 2006. ISBN 0-300-12140-7
  • Die schönsten Diptychen der Flämischen Primitiven/Les plus beaux diptyques, Royal Museum of Fine Arts, Antwerp, Belgium 2007. ISBN 978-90-5544-660-5


Relation to contemporary European art
  • Belozerskaya, Marina. Rethinking the Renaissance: Burgundian Arts Across Europe. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2002 ISBN 0-521-80850-2
  • Borchert, Till-Holger ed. Age of Van Eyck: The Mediterranean World and Early Netherlandish Painting, 1430-1530. Exh. cat. Groeningemuseum, Stedelijke Musea Brugge. Bruges: Luidon, 2002 ISBN 0-500-23795-6
  • Nuttall, Paula. From Flanders to Florence: The Impact of Netherlandish Painting 1400-1500. New Haven: Yale University Press, 2004 ISBN 0-300-10244-5


Historical information about the 15th-century Burgundian Court
  • Calmette, Joseph. The Golden Age of Burgundy: The Magnificent Dukes and their Courts.Phoenix Press; New ed., 2001 ISBN 1-84212-459-5
  • Huizinga, Johan. (aka "the Waning of the Middle Ages" in an earlier translation - Penguin etc.) The Autumn of the Middle Ages. Translated by Rodney J. Payton and Ulrich Mammitzsch. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1996 ISBN 0-226-35994-8
  • Vaughan, Philip R. The Apogee of Burgundy 1419-1467. UK: Boydell & Brewer, 2004 ISBN 0-85115-917-6



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