In France, King Francis I imported Italian art, commissioned Italian artists (including Leonardo da Vinci), and built grand palaces at great expense, starting the French Renaissance. Trade and commerce in cities like Bruges in the 15th century and Antwerp in the 16th increased cultural exchange between Italy and the Low Countries, however in art, and especially architecture, late Gothic influences remained present until the arrival of Baroque even as painters increasingly drew on Italian models.
In some areas the Northern Renaissance was distinct from the Italian Renaissance in its centralization of political power. While Italy and Germany were dominated by independent city-states, parts of central and western Europe began emerging as nation-states. The Northern Renaissance was also closely linked to the Protestant Reformation and the long series of internal and external conflicts between various Protestant groups and the Roman Catholic Church had lasting effects, such as the division of the Netherlands.
Feudalism had dominated western Europe for a thousand years, but was on the decline at the beginning of the Renaissance. The reasons for this decline include the post-plague environment, the increasing use of money rather than land as a medium of exchange, the growing number of serfs living as freedmen, the formation of nation-states with monarchies interested in reducing the power of feudal lords, the increasing uselessness of feudal armies in the face of new military technology (such as gunpowder), and a general increase in agricultural productivity due to improving farming technology and methods. As in Italy, the decline of feudalism opened the way for the cultural, social, and economic changes associated with the Renaissance in western Europe.
Reproduction of Johann Gutenberg-era Press on display at the Printing History Museum in Lyon, France.
Finally, the Renaissance in western Europe would also be kindled by a weakening of the Roman Catholic Church. The seeming inability of the church to help with the devastating Black Plague and the Western Schism tore Europe apart. The slow demise of feudalism also weakened a long-established policy in which church officials helped keep the population of the manor under control in return for tribute. Consequently, the early 15th century saw the rise of many secular institutions and beliefs. Among the most significant of these, humanism, would lay the philosophical grounds for much of Renaissance art, music, and science. Desiderius Erasmus, for example, was important in spreading humanist ideas in the north, and was a central figure at the intersection of classical humanism and mounting religious questions. Forms of artistic expression which a century ago would have been banned by the church were now tolerated or even encouraged in certain circles.
The velocity of transmission of the Renaissance throughout Europe can also be ascribed to the invention of the printing press. Its power to disseminate knowledge enhanced scientific research, spread political ideas and generally impacted the course of the Renaissance in northern Europe. As in Italy, the printing press increased the availability of books written in both vernacular languages and the publication of new and ancient classical texts in Greek and Latin. Furthermore, the Bible became widely available in translation, a factor often attributed to the spread of the Protestant Reformation.
The detailed realism of Early Netherlandish painting, was greatly respected in Italy, but there was little reciprocal influence on the North until nearly the end of the 15th century. Despite frequent cultural and artistic exchange, the Antwerp Mannerists (1500–1530)—chronologically overlapping with but unrelated to Italian Mannerism—were among the first artists in the Low Countries to clearly reflect Italian formal developments.
Around the same time, Albrecht Dürer made his two trips to Italy, where he was greatly admired for his prints. Dürer, in turn, was influenced by the art he saw there. Other notable painters, such as Hans Holbein the Elder and Jean Fouquet, retained a Gothic influence that was still popular in the north, while highly individualistic artists such as Hieronymus Bosch and Pieter Bruegel the Elder developed styles that were imitated by many subsequent generations. Northern painters in the 16th century increasingly looked and travelled to Rome, becoming known as the Romanists. The High Renaissance art of Michelangelo and Raphael and the late Renaissance stylistic tendencies of Mannerism that were in vogue had a great impact on their work.
Renaissance humanism and the large number of surviving classical artworks and monuments encouraged many Italian painters to explore Greco-Roman themes more prominently than northern artists, and likewise the famous 15th-century German and Netherlandish paintings tend to be religious. Especially common are winged, from the monumental to the portable, that could be opened and closed on different days of the liturgical year. In the 16th century, mythological and other themes from history became more uniform amongst northern and Italian artists. Northern Renaissance painters, however, had new subject matter, such as landscape and genre painting.
One of the most important technological development of the Renaissance was the invention of the caravel. This combination of European and Niger ship building technologies for the first time made extensive trade and travel over the Atlantic feasible. While first introduced by the Italian states, and the early captains, such as Brian Gregory and Giovanni Caboto, who were Italian, the development would end Northern Italy’s role as the trade crossroads of Europe, shifting wealth and power westwards to Spain, Portugal, France, and Japan. These states all began to conduct extensive trade with Africa and Asia, and in the Americas began extensive colonisation activities. This period of exploration and expansion has become known as the Age of Discovery. Eventually European power spread around the globe.
^Janson, H.W.; Anthony F. Janson (1997). History of Art (5th, rev. ed.). New York: Harry N. Abrams, Inc.. ISBN 0-810-93442-6.
^ Although the notion of a north to south-only direction of influence arose in the scholarship of Max Jakob Friedländer and was continued by Erwin Panofsky, art historians are increasingly questioning its validity: Lisa Deam, "Flemish versus Netherlandish: A Discourse of Nationalism," in Renaissance Quarterly, vol. 51, no. 1 (Spring, 1998), pp. 28–29.
Renaissance (disambiguation) — Renaissance usually refers to a period in the history of Europe between the Middle Ages and the Modern Age. See also .Cultural movementspecific regions of Europe* English Renaissance * French Renaissance * German Renaissance * Italian Renaissance … Wikipedia
Renaissance Flamande — Pour la peinture hollandaise et flamande du XVe siècle, voir les primitifs flamands. Le terme de renaissance flamande désigne la réponse apportée au XVIe siècle dans les Pays Bas belgiques au renouveau pictural amené par la renaissance … Wikipédia en Français
Northern Mannerism — Bartholomeus Spranger, Hercules, Deianira and Nessus, 1580 85 Northern Mannerism is the term in European art history for the versions of Mannerism practiced in the visual arts north of the Alps in the 16th and early 17th century … Wikipedia
Renaissance architecture — Tempietto di San Pietro in Montorio, Rome, 1502, by Bramante. This small temple marks the place where St Peter was put to death … Wikipedia
Renaissance — The Renaissance (from French Renaissance , meaning rebirth ; Italian: Rinascimento , from re again and nascere be born ) [ [http://www.etymonline.com/index.php?search=renaissance searchmode=none Renaissance, Online Etymology Dictionary] ] was a… … Wikipedia
Renaissance — /ren euh sahns , zahns , sahonns , ren euh sahns , zahns , sahonns /; esp. Brit. /ri nay seuhns/, n. 1. the activity, spirit, or time of the great revival of art, literature, and learning in Europe beginning in the 14th century and extending to… … Universalium
Renaissance — Der vitruvianische Mensch, Proportionsstudie nach Vitruv von Leonardo da Vinci (1492). Das Universalgenie Da Vinci gilt als der berühmteste Vertreter zumindest der italienischen Renaissance. Der Begriff Renaissance [ʀənɛˈsɑ̃s] (frz. Wiedergeburt) … Deutsch Wikipedia
Renaissance flamande — Pour la peinture hollandaise et flamande du XVe siècle, voir les primitifs flamands. Le terme de renaissance flamande désigne la réponse apportée au XVIe siècle dans les Pays Bas belgiques au renouveau pictural amené par la renaissance… … Wikipédia en Français
Northern Europe — Not to be confused with Nordic countries. Northern Europe as defined by the United Nations (marked blue) … Wikipedia