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From Private Piety to Princely Pomp: The Art of Northern Renaissance


  • Credit value: 30 credits at Level 6
  • Convenor: to be confirmed
  • Assessment: a 1000-word research commentary (20%) and 3500-word essay (80%)

Module description

In this module we explore the riches of the visual arts of Northern Europe in the early modern period and examine the circumstances of artistic production and the devotional and ceremonial uses to which art was put. We will concentrate on the arts of the Low Countries, looking at works in a diverse range of media from painting, sculpture and tapestry to book illumination and work in precious metals, and will consider the export and impact of Netherlandish art throughout Europe.

The module will attend to the basic structures framing the production and uses of art:

  • the characteristics of the ruling courts
  • the commercial and cultural environment of the great cities
  • the overarching framework of Christian belief and religious practice.

This will include a consideration of the patterns of court, civic and church patronage; the art market and the role of the guilds; the characteristics of the principal urban centres; and the basic components of public and private devotion.

We will trace the impact of the Netherlandish tradition throughout Europe through the export of art works and the movement of artists. Further topics may include portraiture, landscape and the status of the artist.