Chapter 13: Artistic Innovations in 15th
Century Northern Europe
Map of Renaissance Europe, 15th century.
15th Century Europe
Historical Context:
• Great Schism (1378-c.1415)
• Hundred Years War (1337-1453)
between England and F...
Northern Europe: The Netherlands
People:
• Region known as the
Southern Netherlands
(Bruges, Brussels,
Ghent, and Tournai)...
Northern Europe: The Netherlands
People:
• More private individuals with more
wealth create diverse system of
patronage
• ...
Northern Europe
Themes:
• Life of the Virgin Mary, Christ
• Secular images, portraits
• Disguised symbolism
Forms:
• Detai...
Flanders
Robert Campin (Master of Flémalle), Mérode Triptych/Altarpiece, c. 1425–
1430. Oil on panel, central panel 25 3/1...
Flanders
Example:
• Triptych
• Oil paint, glazes
• Disguised symbolism
• Donor portraits
• For home use/private devotion
•...
Flanders
Example:
• Robert Campin (1378-1444)
– Authorship debated
• Early pioneer of naturalism
revolution
• Mixing pigme...
Flanders
Example:
• Small scale for private
veneration
– Probably in bedroom
considering subject
matter
• Portable object
...
Flanders
Example:
• Donors (unknown) were
wealthy
– Portrait included on left
wing
– Self portrait of the
artist in backgr...
Flanders
Example:
• Annunciation scene set in
humble domestic interior
• Mary reads, interrupted by Angel
Gabriel
• Figure...
Flanders
Example:
• Use of symbolism
– Lillies=symbol of Mary’s
virginity
– Distinguished
candle=Holy Spirit is
present
– ...
Flanders
Example:
• Window remains
intact, as does
Mary’s virginity as
Christ enters her
womb
• The baby, carrying a
cross...
Flanders
Example:
• Mary’s knee has a
starburst pattern as it
projects forward hinting
at her approaching
pregnancy
Robert...
Flanders
A medieval simile reads:
As a ray of the sun
Through a window can
pass.
And yet no hurt is done
The translucent g...
Flanders
Example:
• A book of hours
belonging to
Catherine of
Cleves shows
previous use of
iconography
– Baby Jesus
– Chri...
Flanders
Example:
• A book of hours
belonging to
Catherine of Cleves
shows previous use
of iconography
Pages from Hours of...
Flanders
Example:
• A book of hours belonging to Catherine of Cleves
shows previous use of iconography
– Christ as bait (b...
Flanders
Example:
• Like Joseph, Campin was a
craftsman this may explain tools
Robert Campin (Master of Flémalle), mousetr...
Flanders
Example:
• Mousetrap references St.
Augustine’s metaphor of the
mousetrap to explain the necessity of
the incarna...
Flanders
Example:
• Elevation of artist—top text included
reads ―Als Ich Kan‖ translates as
―As I can‖ (from proverb)
• Be...
Flanders
Hubert and Jan Van Eyck, Ghent Altarpiece (as currently displayed), 1432.
Oil on panel, 11’5” x 15’ 1.” Cathedral...
Hubert and Jan Van Eyck, Ghent
Altarpiece (closed), 1432. Oil on panel,
11’5”. x 7’ 6.” Cathedral of Saint Bavo,
Ghent, Be...
Flanders
Example:
• Schedule of arrangement dictating
when altarpiece would be open and
closed (feast days)
• Frame (now l...
Flanders
Example:
• Gabriel speaks to
Mary, ―Hail Mary
full of grace,
Blessed are thou
among women…‖
• Mary responds,
―Beh...
Flanders
Example:
• Donor portraits
noticeable when
altarpiece is closed
– portraits Joost (or
Jodicus) Vijdt, mayor
of Gh...
Flanders
Example:
• Establishes reputation as artist
– Completed after brother
dies (known from
inscription)
• Polyptych f...
Hubert and Jan Van Eyck, Details of God the Father from the
Ghent Altarpiece (open), 1432. Oil on panel, 11’5” x 15’ 1.”
C...
Hubert and Jan Van Eyck, Details of Mary and the Cathedral of Saint Bavo from
the Ghent Altarpiece (open), 1432. Oil on pa...
Flanders
Example:
• Left=Angels singing in heaven
– Faces similar but all different
crowns for individualism,
mouths sing ...
Flanders
Example:
• Very realistically painted
– Not idealized like Italian
tradition
• Represents God’s
willingness to re...
Flanders
Example:
• Subject is the mass
• Wonderful color made
possible by oil paint
• Very detailed background
from archi...
Hubert and Jan Van Eyck, Details of Mary and the Cathedral of Saint Bavo from
the Ghent Altarpiece (open), 1432. Oil on pa...
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Chapter 13 Artistic Innovations of 15th Century Northern Europe, Part I

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Chapter 13 Artistic Innovations of 15th Century Northern Europe, Part I

  1. 1. Chapter 13: Artistic Innovations in 15th Century Northern Europe Map of Renaissance Europe, 15th century.
  2. 2. 15th Century Europe Historical Context: • Great Schism (1378-c.1415) • Hundred Years War (1337-1453) between England and France • Duke Philip the Bold (r.1363-1494) marries daughter of the count of Flanders consolidating power between Burgundy and Flanders • Early stages of European capitalism emerge including new developments in trade and credit systems • Integration of religious and secular concerns Map of Europe, c. 1475
  3. 3. Northern Europe: The Netherlands People: • Region known as the Southern Netherlands (Bruges, Brussels, Ghent, and Tournai) • Cities are center of great international trade and commerce • Guild system very powerful 15th Century map of The Netherlands
  4. 4. Northern Europe: The Netherlands People: • More private individuals with more wealth create diverse system of patronage • Elevation of artists – Artists work for royal courts • Artistic revolution – Northern Renaissance artists introduce new medium, oil painting – Improved technology leads to increase in realism and detail – 1456 Gutenberg invents printing press Jan Van Eyck, Man in a Red Turban (Self-Portrait), 1433/4. Oil on panel, 13 1/8” x 10 1/8.” National Gallery, London.
  5. 5. Northern Europe Themes: • Life of the Virgin Mary, Christ • Secular images, portraits • Disguised symbolism Forms: • Detailed renderings of surfaces and textures • Naturalistic figures and spaces • Oil paint for glowing color Rogier van der Weyden, Saint Luke Drawing the Virgin, c. 1435–1440. 4’ 6 ½” x 3’ 7 5/8.”
  6. 6. Flanders Robert Campin (Master of Flémalle), Mérode Triptych/Altarpiece, c. 1425– 1430. Oil on panel, central panel 25 3/16” x 24 7/8,” each wing 25 3/8” x 10 7/8”. Metropolitan Museum of Art, NY, Cloisters Collection. Fig. 13.3
  7. 7. Flanders Example: • Triptych • Oil paint, glazes • Disguised symbolism • Donor portraits • For home use/private devotion • Annunciation in common domestic interior Robert Campin (Master of Flémalle), Mérode Triptych/Altarpiece, c. 1425–1430. Oil on panel, central panel 25 3/16” x 24 7/8,” each wing 25 3/8” x 10 7/8”. Metropolitan Museum of Art, NY, Cloisters Collection. Fig. 13.3
  8. 8. Flanders Example: • Robert Campin (1378-1444) – Authorship debated • Early pioneer of naturalism revolution • Mixing pigments with slow-drying oils allows for blending of brushstrokes, adds layers of color for dimension • Great attention to detail – Relatable figures and interior • Lack of concern with proper perspective (table and bench) Robert Campin (Master of Flémalle), Mérode Triptych/Altarpiece, c. 1425– 1430. Oil on panel, central panel 25 3/16” x 24 7/8.” Metropolitan Museum of Art, NY, Cloisters Collection. Fig.
  9. 9. Flanders Example: • Small scale for private veneration – Probably in bedroom considering subject matter • Portable object • Pictured here as seen at Cloisters, NYC Robert Campin (Master of Flémalle), Mérode Triptych/Altarpiece as displayed, c. 1425–1430. Oil on panel, central panel 25 3/16” x 24 7/8,” each wing 25 3/8” x 10 7/8”. Metropolitan Museum of Art, NY, Cloisters Collection.
  10. 10. Flanders Example: • Donors (unknown) were wealthy – Portrait included on left wing – Self portrait of the artist in background • Attention to detail – City buildings are identifiable Robert Campin (Master of Flémalle), donor detail Mérode Triptych/Altarpiece, c. 1425– 1430. Oil on panel, central panel 25 3/16” x 24 7/8,” each wing 25 3/8” x 10 7/8”. Metropolitan Museum of Art, NY, Cloisters Collection.
  11. 11. Flanders Example: • Annunciation scene set in humble domestic interior • Mary reads, interrupted by Angel Gabriel • Figures are rendered with mass • Attention to detail in folds • Gabriel’s gesture and Mary’s garment help orient viewer to important figure • The two figures are separated by a table with religious iconography Robert Campin (Master of Flémalle), Mérode Triptych/Altarpiece, c. 1425– 1430. Oil on panel, central panel 25 3/16” x 24 7/8.” Metropolitan Museum of Art, NY, Cloisters
  12. 12. Flanders Example: • Use of symbolism – Lillies=symbol of Mary’s virginity – Distinguished candle=Holy Spirit is present – Pitcher=Mary is the vessel for baby Jesus Robert Campin (Master of Flémalle), table detail Mérode Triptych/Altarpiece, c. 1425– 1430. Oil on panel, central panel 25 3/16” x 24 7/8,” each wing 25 3/8” x 10 7/8”. Metropolitan Museum of Art, NY, Cloisters Collection.
  13. 13. Flanders Example: • Window remains intact, as does Mary’s virginity as Christ enters her womb • The baby, carrying a cross, is headed right for her womb • Towels, pot all have symbolic significance Robert Campin (Master of Flémalle), niche detail Mérode Triptych/Altarpiece, c. 1425–1430. Oil on panel, central panel 25 3/16” x 24 7/8,” each wing 25 3/8” x 10 7/8”. Metropolitan Museum of Art, NY, Cloisters Collection.
  14. 14. Flanders Example: • Mary’s knee has a starburst pattern as it projects forward hinting at her approaching pregnancy Robert Campin (Master of Flémalle), niche detail Mérode Triptych/Altarpiece, c. 1425–1430. Oil on panel, central panel 25 3/16” x 24 7/8,” each wing 25 3/8” x 10 7/8”. Metropolitan Museum of Art, NY, Cloisters Collection.
  15. 15. Flanders A medieval simile reads: As a ray of the sun Through a window can pass. And yet no hurt is done The translucent glass So, but more subtly, Of a mother untried, God, the son of God, Comes forth from his bride. Robert Campin (Master of Flémalle), baby detail Mérode Triptych/Altarpiece, c. 1425–1430. Oil on panel, central panel 25 3/16” x 24 7/8,” each wing 25 3/8” x 10 7/8”. Metropolitan Museum of Art, NY, Cloisters Collection.
  16. 16. Flanders Example: • A book of hours belonging to Catherine of Cleves shows previous use of iconography – Baby Jesus – Christ as bait (bas- de-page) Hours of Catherine of Cleves, illuminated manuscript made in the northern Netherlands about 1440. Robert Campin (Master of Flémalle), baby detail Mérode Triptych/Altarpiece, c. 1425–1430. Oil on panel, central panel 25 3/16” x 24 7/8,” each wing 25 3/8” x 10 7/8”. Metropolitan Museum of Art, NY, Cloisters Collection.
  17. 17. Flanders Example: • A book of hours belonging to Catherine of Cleves shows previous use of iconography Pages from Hours of Catherine of Cleves, illuminated manuscript made in the northern Netherlands about 1440.
  18. 18. Flanders Example: • A book of hours belonging to Catherine of Cleves shows previous use of iconography – Christ as bait (bas-de-page) Details from pages of Hours of Catherine of Cleves, illuminated manuscript made in the northern Netherlands about 1440.
  19. 19. Flanders Example: • Like Joseph, Campin was a craftsman this may explain tools Robert Campin (Master of Flémalle), mousetrap and Joseph’s tools detail Mérode Triptych/Altarpiece, c. 1425–1430. Oil on panel, central panel 25 3/16” x 24 7/8,” each wing 25 3/8” x 10 7/8”. Metropolitan Museum of Art, NY, Cloisters Collection.
  20. 20. Flanders Example: • Mousetrap references St. Augustine’s metaphor of the mousetrap to explain the necessity of the incarnation. – "The devil exulted when Christ died, but by this very death of Christ the devil was vanquished, as if he had swallowed the bait in the mousetrap. He rejoiced in Christ's death, like a bailiff of death. What he rejoiced in was then his own undoing. The cross of the Lord was the devil's mousetrap; the bait by which he was caught was the Lord's death...." Robert Campin (Master of Flémalle), mousetrap and Joseph’s tools detail Mérode Triptych/Altarpiece, c. 1425– 1430. Oil on panel, central panel 25 3/16” x 24 7/8,” each wing 25 3/8” x 10 7/8”. Metropolitan Museum of Art, NY, Cloisters Collection.
  21. 21. Flanders Example: • Elevation of artist—top text included reads ―Als Ich Kan‖ translates as ―As I can‖ (from proverb) • Believed to be one of the first self- portraits of the Renaissance • Visual representation of pride and economic position/wealth • Turban is actually a chaperone, then a fashionable headdress • Fabric reveals artist’s skill and delight in folds • Facial features very carefully rendered and defined Jan Van Eyck, Man in a Red Turban (Self-Portrait), 1433/4. Oil on panel, 13 1/8” x 10 1/8.” National Gallery, London.
  22. 22. Flanders Hubert and Jan Van Eyck, Ghent Altarpiece (as currently displayed), 1432. Oil on panel, 11’5” x 15’ 1.” Cathedral of Saint Bavo, Ghent, Belgium.
  23. 23. Hubert and Jan Van Eyck, Ghent Altarpiece (closed), 1432. Oil on panel, 11’5”. x 7’ 6.” Cathedral of Saint Bavo, Ghent, Belgium. Fig. 13.4. Flanders Example: Jan van Eyck (1380/90-1441) • Attention to detail • Mocks sculpture and a gives sense of depth • Utilizes atmospheric perspective to create depth • Builds layers of glazes for high saturation of color
  24. 24. Flanders Example: • Schedule of arrangement dictating when altarpiece would be open and closed (feast days) • Frame (now lost) included hinges for opening and closing • Top register= Old Testament prophets and sibyls who predict coming of Christ • Middle register=Annunciation scene • Lower register= Patrons of cathedral with patron saints (grisaille) John the Baptist (left/lamb) and John the Evangelist right/(chalice with serpents) • Architectural elements show trace of Gothic inspiration Hubert and Jan Van Eyck, Ghent Altarpiece (closed), 1432. Oil on panel, 11’5” x 15’ 1.” Cathedral of Saint Bavo, Ghent, Belgium.
  25. 25. Flanders Example: • Gabriel speaks to Mary, ―Hail Mary full of grace, Blessed are thou among women…‖ • Mary responds, ―Behold the handmaiden of the Lord…‖ Hubert and Jan Van Eyck, detail Gabriel and Mary Ghent Altarpiece (closed), 1432. Oil on panel, 11’5” x 15’ 1.” Cathedral of Saint Bavo, Ghent, Belgium.
  26. 26. Flanders Example: • Donor portraits noticeable when altarpiece is closed – portraits Joost (or Jodicus) Vijdt, mayor of Ghent, and his wife Lysbette Borluut • Attention to texture seen in skin and fur, gown • Realistic rendering of portrait (verism) Hubert and Jan Van Eyck, Ghent Altarpiece (donor portraits Joost Vijdt and his wife Lysbette Borluut), 1432. Oil on panel, 11’5” x 15’ 1.” Cathedral of Saint Bavo, Ghent, Belgium.
  27. 27. Flanders Example: • Establishes reputation as artist – Completed after brother dies (known from inscription) • Polyptych for narrative sequence • Monumental, free-standing altarpiece • Descriptive naturalism • Redemption (with Adam and Eve for Fall) • Escaped Nazis WWII Hubert and Jan Van Eyck, Ghent Altarpiece (open), 1432. Oil on panel, 11’5” x 15’ 1.” Cathedral of Saint Bavo, Ghent, Belgium. Fig. 13.5
  28. 28. Hubert and Jan Van Eyck, Details of God the Father from the Ghent Altarpiece (open), 1432. Oil on panel, 11’5” x 15’ 1.” Cathedral of Saint Bavo, Ghent, Belgium. Flanders Example: • God the Father, center (hierarchal scale) – New depiction of God, not medieval vengeful God but forgiving and benevolent • Attributable to humanism – Papal crown – Crown at feet=king of kings • Displays great skill and detail, inspired by jewelry design – Scepter=power – Hand gesture of blessing – Imagery of pelican and symbolism (sacrifice own body for young)
  29. 29. Hubert and Jan Van Eyck, Details of Mary and the Cathedral of Saint Bavo from the Ghent Altarpiece (open), 1432. Oil on panel, 11’5” x 15’ 1.” Cathedral of Saint Bavo, Ghent, Belgium. Flanders Example: • To God’s right, Mary is crowned Queen of Heaven • She wears the clothes of a queen • Lilies in hair=chastity
  30. 30. Flanders Example: • Left=Angels singing in heaven – Faces similar but all different crowns for individualism, mouths sing different notes • Right=Angels playing music • Clothes are rich with color and jewels – Ermine fur on robes – Gold detailing • Carved furniture possible indication of original frame to painting Hubert and Jan Van Eyck, Details of Angels of Heaven from the Ghent Altarpiece (open), 1432. Oil on panel, 11’5” x 15’ 1.” Cathedral of Saint Bavo,
  31. 31. Flanders Example: • Very realistically painted – Not idealized like Italian tradition • Represents God’s willingness to reconcile and forgive Hubert and Jan Van Eyck, Details of Adam and Eve (with detail of Mary) from the Ghent Altarpiece (open), 1432. Oil on panel, 11’5” x 15’ 1.” Cathedral of Saint Bavo, Ghent, Belgium.
  32. 32. Flanders Example: • Subject is the mass • Wonderful color made possible by oil paint • Very detailed background from architecture to trees • Symbols – Lamb with wound, bleeding into chalice=Christ – Angels surround altar with instruments of Christ’s pain (crown of thorns, cross, column) – Man come to pay homage – Fountain of life (water leads to viewer) Hubert and Jan Van Eyck, Ghent Altarpiece, detail open (Adoration of the Lamb), 1432. Oil on panel, 11’5” x 15’ 1.” Cathedral of Saint Bavo, Ghent, Belgium.
  33. 33. Hubert and Jan Van Eyck, Details of Mary and the Cathedral of Saint Bavo from the Ghent Altarpiece (open), 1432. Oil on panel, 11’5” x 15’ 1.” Cathedral of Saint Bavo, Ghent, Belgium. Flanders Example: • Detail of Cathedral of Saint Bavo • Detail is overwhelming as if transporting viewer beyond earthly realm – Divine vision
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