Late Gothic and Renaissance Art in Northern Europe

Dutch, Flemish and German art all shared common characteristics before Northern Europe was divided by politics and religion into Catholic and Protestant in the mid-16th century.* Before this time the art of these regions was Catholic and predominantly produced for the purpose of devotion - as is the case of most of the works here. In style Northern Europe art followed traditions established in the Burgundian (northern French) courts of the Middle Ages. The elaborate wood sculpture in this gallery derived its style from the monumental Gothic stone sculpture of cathedral facades. Netherlandish painting followed precedents found in precious and elaborate manuscript illumination. Northern European style at this time was primarily naturalistic in details and highly decorative in design - but many of the works in this gallery also show the beginnings of influence of the idealized renaissance art of Italy on Northern artists.

*Germany was partitioned by the Peace of Augsburg of 1555 into Catholic and Protestant States. The Northern Provinces (modern Holland) revolted against their Catholic rulers beginning in 1568 - achieving total independence from the Spanish rulers of the Southern Netherlands (modern Belgium} in 1648.