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Early Northern Renaissance Art

Early Northern Renaissance Art

Author: Ian McConnell
Description:

This lesson will explore the art of the early Northern Renaissance.

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Tutorial

Notes on "Early Northern Renaissance Art"

An introduction to the art of the Northern Renaissance.

Video Transcription

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Hello. I'd like to welcome you to this episode of Exploring Art History with Ian. My name is Ian McConnell. And today's lesson is about early Northern Renaissance art. As you're watching the video, feel free to pause, move, forward, or rewind as many times as you feel is necessary. And as soon as you're ready, we can begin.

Today's objectives, or the things you're going to learn today, are listed below. By the end of the lesson today, you'll be able to identify and define today's key terms. Explain the Three Rich Hours as a major change in manuscript illumination. And describe cultural aspects related to the development of art in northern France and Flanders.

Key terms as always are listed in yellow throughout the lesson. First key term is Northern Renaissance, an age of artistic and cultural discovery and Christian humanism that took place in Germany, the Netherlands, and France. Capitalism, an economic system in which means of production, capital, is privately owned. Burgher, a middle class citizen of a borough or town. Book of Hours, a popular devotional book used by Christians during the Middle Ages.

The big idea for today is that the Three Rich Hours is a major change in manuscript illumination, in which the images began dominating over the text.

So we'll be looking at art and culture from about 1325 to 1475. Which covers the lifespan of two Dukes of Burgundy, Philip the Bold and Philip the Good.

So Flanders is an area of modern day Belgium that used to be under the control of the kingdom of France. It's no longer under control of France. It's part of Belgium. This is the modern day border of Flanders, as well as the city of Brussels as a reference.

There are a number of cultural aspects related to the development of the art in northern France and Flanders during this time. First is the rise of the Burgundian dukes. First Philip the Bold, shown there. Very bold looking. Followed by Philip the Good. Both function almost independently of the kingdom of France and spent a great deal of their time expanding their territory and enjoying very elaborate lifestyles. Now their patronage of the arts was extremely important to its proliferation in this area during this time.

The other development was more of a natural consequence of one of the worst pandemics in human history, that of the bubonic plague or Black Death. Now it's thought to have originated in Asia and traveled via the fleas of rats. But it decimated the European population. It may have killed anywhere from one third to 2/3 of the population of Europe over the centuries. It's hard to tell because of the records from that time.

There was a bit of a silver lining for those that survived. There's plenty of work. And plenty of money to work. Given that the competition was clearly very low. The consequence was that serfs, who are more or less indentured servants tied to a piece of property until they pay their debt, they were able to earn money quickly and buy their freedom.

So with no ties to piece of land and the owner of that land, serfs-- no longer serfs-- but they could now move about. And this contributed to the rise of middle class, which in turn created a new large pool of patrons to the arts, called burghers.

Images of peasants and the aristocracy at their leisure are a defining element of the art of the Northern Renaissance. This image from a larger book of hours, illustrated by the Limbourg brothers between 1413 and 1416, is an example of aristocracy at their leisure. A book of hours was a devotional book used by Christians. This example is also interesting in that the emphasis is clearly on the illustration rather than text. The text, which marks a major change in manuscript illumination. Before this, the emphasis was on the text, the images were sort of supplementary. And here we see a reversal.

So that brings us to the end of this lesson. Let's take a look at our objectives to see how we did. Now that you've seen the lesson, are you able to identify and define today's key terms? Can you explain the Three Rich Hours as a major change in manuscript illumination. Again, illustrations verses text. And describe cultural aspects related to the development of art in northern France and Flanders?

Once again the big idea for today. Is that the Three Rich Hours is a major change in manuscript illumination, in which the images began dominating over the text. And there you go. Thank you very much for joining me. I'll see you next time.

TERMS TO KNOW
  • Capitalism

    An economic system in which means of production (capital) is privately owned.

  • Burgher

    A middle class citizen of a borough or town.

  • Northern Renaissance

    An age of artistic and cultural discovery and Christian humanism that took place in Germany, the Netherlands, and France.

  • Book of Hours

    A popular devotional book used by Christians during the Middle Ages.

  • Manuscript Illumination

    A decorated and illustrated manuscript embellished with gold or silver.