Northern Renaissance Art

Northern Renaissance art, which centered in Germany and the Netherlands,  was distinctly different than the Renaissance art created in Italy.

Northern Renaissance Art Style
Artists who painted northern Renaissance art lived in the 15th and 16th centuries. Because artists in Germany and the Netherlands didn't have easy access to Greek and Roman art, unlike the Italians, there are less "classical" influences in the artwork produced in northern Europe. However, northern Renaissance artists were particularly adept at detailing.

Northern Renaissance Art and Artists
Jan Van Eyck (c. 1395-c. 1441), who was a Flemish artist, is known for both his use of religious symbols in his work and for his use of layers of transparent glazes. The Arnolfini Wedding (1434) appears to be a picture of a pregnant bride and her husband, with a mirror in the back reflecting a picture of Van Eyck and another man. In addition to looking pregnant, the woman is wearing a green gown. However, the woman may not actually be pregnant. The appearance of pregnancy could imply that the purpose of marriage is to have children. In addition, green is the color of fertility. The dog between husband and wife could be a symbol of fidelity to God as well as to their marriage vows to each other.

England's King Henry VIII employed German painter Hans Holbein the Younger (1497-1543) for a time. Holbein's portrait of King Henry VIII (c. 1536) is a visual of what King Henry looked like. In addition, the portrait portrays a certain coldness or ruthlessness that makes it easy to think that this man could have had his wives imprisoned and beheaded so that he could have an heir. The detailing of Henry's clothing and hat make his face stand out without detracting from his facial features or is implied emotions.

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