The Northern Renaissance (1500-1615)
The 16th century heralded a new era for painting in the Netherlands and
Germany. Northern artists were influenced by the great innovations in the
South; many artists travelled to Italy to study; and the Renaissance
concern for bringing modern science and philosophy into art was also
evident in the North. There was, however, a difference of outlook between
the two cultures. In Italy change was inspired by Humanism, with its emphasis
on the revival of the values of classical antiquity. In the North, change
was driven by another set of preoccupations: religious reform, the return
to ancient Christian values, and the revolt against the authority of the
The Renaissance in the North crystallized around the intense vision and
Other painters in both Germany and the Netherlands followed the Northern
impulse for precise observation and naturalism in the fields of landscape
painting (Patinir and
Bruegel) and portraiture
As in Italy, the Northern Renaissance ended with a Mannerist phase.
Mannerism was to last about a generation longer in the North than it did
in Italy, where it was outmoded by 1600.
© 19 Nov 1995,
Nicolas Pioch -
Thanks to the
BMW Foundation, the WebMuseum
and contributors for their support.