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Styles & Periods
Northern Renaissance

The term Northern Renaissance is used to describe the European Renaissance outside of Italy. The European Renaissance was born in Italy in the late thirteenth century, ushering in a new age of thought marked by tremendous cultural ambition. Several artistic innovations emerged during the Italian Renaissance; a fresh focus on realism led to advances in depicting perspective and the human form, and catalyzed the development of new techniques, such as sfumato, to represent the effects of light. The Italian Renaissance, though powered by some of the most important artists to ever live, had little influence outside of Italy until the late fifteenth century. The emergence of Humanism had fueled the Italian Renaissance, and because it had not yet established a foothold in the northern countries, much of their art was still informed by ingrained religious tenets. As the Roman Catholic Church began to lose influence in the fifteenth century, secular philosophy, namely humanism, began to flourish. Aided by the printing press, renaissance philosophies spread quickly throughout Europe, and the Northern Renaissance had officially begun. Albrecht Dürer, often considered the greatest of the Northern Renaissance artists, took multiple trips to Italy, adopting new styles and techniques, and sharing his knowledge of the masters throughout Germany and the Netherlands. Jan van Eyck, who worked in the second half of the 15th century, was also a master of the Northern Renaissance, credited for his groundbreaking work with oil paint. Wherever the renaissance spread, France, Poland, Scandinavia, and even England by the end of the sixteenth century, artists incorporated the exciting new methods with their artistic heritage, creating a wealth of artistic treasures.


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