Northern Renaissance Works That May Appear on the Midterm Flashcards Preview

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Flashcards in Northern Renaissance Works That May Appear on the Midterm Deck (15)
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  • Claus Sluter
  • Well of Moses
  • c. 1395-1406

Example of Realism
Contains theatrical references. Mystery plays, which were popular at the time, featured the commentary of prophets on events in Christ's life.


  • Robert Campin (attributed)
  • Virgin and Child Before a Firescreen
  • c. 1425



An early copy of this painting showed a humble porridge bowl on the cabinet at far right. This is more appropriate to the tenor of the work than the modern restoration of the right four inches of the panel, which added the liturgical chalice and cupboard.


  • Jan Van Eyck
  • Ghent Altarpiece
  • 1432

Was painted as an illusionistic continuation of its surroundings. The real daylight of the chapel was used to cause the frame in the four-part Annunciation scene to cast shadows to the left on the chamber's painted floor.

Van Eyck's use of light is multiple and mysterious, suggesting complicated levels of reality.

Adam and Eve were painted from a worm's eye  point-of-view, emphasizing Adam and Eve's humanity. Adam has a tan, Eve has a swelling belly as per fashion of the time, they appear bound to the earth, like the spectator.


  • Jan van Eyck
  • Arnolfini Double Portrait
  • c. 1434
  • Details in this image shed light on this couple's relationship and the function of their portrait.
  • The crystal prayerbeads could have been a wedding gift from husband to wife, meant to reinforce the need for the woman as temptress (Eve's successor) constantly to engage in prayer.
  • The household dusting brush, which hangs from the bedstead, probably referred to the importance of the woman's domestic duties.
  • Carved on the bedstead is a statue of a woman with a dragon, who could be St. Margaret (patroness of childbirth) or St. Martha (patroness of housewives). 
  • Such details in fifteenth century northern works are often indicators of the social, political or religious interests of the patrons.


  • Enguerrand Charonton
  • Coronation of the Virgin
  • 1453

An example of a commissioned work where the subject matter, including very specific details, was a real concern. This piece had 26 paragraphs stipulating items to be represented, "there should not be any difference between God the Father and Son".

This shows an obsessive need that those in authority felt to control works of art under their direction, Charonton was granted some control, as when he tied his work to the southern French countryside in which it was placed.


  • Hugo van der Goes
  • Portinari Altarpiece
  • c. 1476

Very realistic, yet full of disguised symbolism

Contains a hierachical scale; the holy figures are almost twice the size of the humans.

Good example of "impressively real and oppresively ideal", where part builds upon part, figures grow or shrink, are flattened or suspended in space.

The central panel reflects contemporary (religious) theatrical practice, with the stage floor tilted up so the participants do not block each other. Also, angels are clothed in robes, as was the custom of medieval mystery plays.

In the shepherds we see an example of how realism reflects social class distinctions, with their open mouths, awkwardly grasping hands and visibly straining muscles.

This realism allows the artist to ponder a rich variety of human emotional and physical response–not one ideal but many realities.

The foreground still-life: This painting was orginally displayed above the high altar of a small hospital in Florence. Thus for most viewers the still-life would have been about eye-level; it would have been the main visual draw. Because of the perspective, the still-life seems to exist in a space of its own.

The grapes on the jar in the still-life is another example of realism, but it has been bent to symbolic purposes, with the grape clusters recalling Christ's sacrifice (blood).

The sheaf of wheat symbolizes the body of Christ.

Violets = humility
lilles and irises = the passion
columbine = Holy Spirit
three red carnations (called nail flowers) = the nails of the cross

The exterior contains grisaille imitations of sculpture



  • Rogier van der Weyden
  • St. Luke Portraying the Virgin
  • c. 1435-1440
  • The virgin sits in front of, not on, the bench, thus indicating her humility (a prime Christian virtue).
  • On the armrest of the bench is a small carving of Adam and Eve with the serpent, a reminder that the Christ Child and Virgin Mary are the New Adam and New Eve come to undo the sins of the first.
  • At the far right, we glimpse St. Luke's Study with a writing desk and, reclining on the floor, an ox, one of the four Apocalyptic beasts described in the Book of Revelation (4:6-8) as surrounding the throne of God and which were used as symbols of the four gospels.


  • Albrecht Duerer
  • Adam and Eve
  • 1504

Contains Italianate classical ideals. This style was rare for the North.

Adam was based on an ancient statue of Apollo; Eve on Venus. Perfectly poised, articulated and interrelated: Adam and Eve before the Fall--perfection found only in paradise.

This engraving wasn't simply meant to depict artistic perfection. There are many symbols. Cat = choleric, rabbit = sanguine, elk = melancholic, ox = phlegmatic.


  • Hieronymus Bosch
  • Garden of Earthly Delights
  • c.1505-10



  • Matthias Grünewald
  • Isenheim Altarpiece
  • 1515

Depiction of pain and suffering found in the lacerated body of the crucified Christ, this was placed in a hospital where patients could find hope by seeing Christ's suffering


  • Albrecht Duerer
  • The Last Supper
  • 1523

What connects Duerer’s Last Supper to the Reformation?

In this depiction of the Last Supper, Duerer puts emphasis on brotherhood and discipleship.


  • Lucas Cranach the Elder
  • Allegory of Law and Grace
  • c. 1530


  • Pieter Aertsen
  • Meat Still-Life
  • 1551


  • Pieter Bruegel
  • Battle Between Carnival and Lent
  • 1559


  • Pieter Bruegel
  • Return of the Herd
  • 1565