Chapter 20: Late Medieval and Early Renaissance Northern Europe
Preview: Chapter 20 covers artistic production in northern Europe in the 15th century. This period saw social and political turmoil throughout the region, but it also witnessed important innovations in artististic technique and active royal, ducal, church, and private patronage of the arts. In the Duchy of Burgundy and Flanders (a region that included present-day Belgium, the Netherlands, Luxembourg, and northern France), powerful dukes commissioned Claus Sluter to creat the Well of Moses for the Carthusian monastery at Champmol. Flemish painters such as Malchior Broederlam and Jan van Eyck specialized in the use of oil paints on wood panel, a medium that produced images of rich vibrancy. Portraiture became an important art form, as did altarpieces with folding wings, and Flemish paintings in general are marked by their extraordinary realism and inclusion of scenes and objects of everyday life. Despite the Hundred Years War (1337-1453) that crippled the French economy, the nobility commissioned important artworks, particularly illuminated manuscripts by the Limbourg brothers. Artists in the Holy Roman Empire retained the Late Gothic style of the preceding century, but the primary artistic development in Germany came with the invention of the printing press and innovations in printmaking. Martin Schongauer was the greatest of the early masters of engraving, and the circulation of his prints ensured his influence on later Northern Renaissance artists such as Albrecht Dürer. Dürer’s art will be discussed in Chapter 23: High Renaissance and Mannerism in Northern Europe and Spain.
Key Figures: Cennino Cennini, St. Eligius, St. Luke
Key Cultural & Religious Terms: feudalism, mystery plays, Renaissance, prefiguration, mystic marriage, matins, compline