Early Netherlandish painting
Photograph by pixelthingon Flickr.
The masters were very much admired Washington Crossing the Delaware in Italy, and may have had a bigger influence in Italy than the other way around in the 15th century. Religious paintings—church decoration or altarpieces for churches and private use, for example—remained popular subjects in both Early Netherlandish and Italian Renaissance painting. 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).
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. 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.
It is far less pronounced in the north, only fully entering Netherlandish painting in the 16th century. Consequently, Flemish and Netherlandish (that is, of the Low Countries ) became interchangeable terms based on the location of the dominant cities.
Late Gothic , for instance, emphasizes the continuity with the Middle Ages. The role of Renaissance humanism, however, was not as strong in the north as it was in Italy.
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 Antwerp s position increased, one manifestation of the shift is seen in the artists identified as Antwerp Mannerists. Because Bruges and Ghent—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.
Some art historians also use the term Ars nova ( new art ), which has its source in music history. 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 France, Germany, Belgium and The Netherlands did not exist.
Instead, local trends, such as Devotio Moderna are more apparent and had an impact on the subject and format of many artworks. 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.
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. The new style emerged in Flanders almost simultaneously with the beginning of the Italian Renaissance. 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.
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. Subjects are mostly iconic religious scenes or small portraits; narrative painting is far rarer than in Italy, as are mythological figures. Early Netherlandish painting and painters are known in a variety of ways, with Late Gothic and the Flemish Primitives remaining other common designations.
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. Flanders, which now specifically refers to distinct parts of Belgium, and other areas of the region were under the control of the Dukes of Burgundy and, later, the Habsburg dynasty.
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 . Additionally, the presence of the Burgundian court, like the situation in Urbino and other Italian cities, allowed court artists to flourish.
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 Bruges and Ghent. 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 General - Introductory General - in depth Museum catalogs Relation to contemporary European art Historical information about the 15th-century Burgundian Court .