15th Century Art of the North

The Netherlands saw a flowering of art in the 15th Century, including the introduction of oil paintings with an unprecedented amount of detail and surface realism. What helped to fuel the artist’s obsession with realism and minutia? How do these paintings compare to Gothic art, especially sculpture?

Find a painting by Jan van Eyck, Rogier van der Weyden, or Hugo van der Goes either from the module or outside. Provide an image for the class and explain the function and message of the painting and the meanings contained within it. Most importantly, in terms of style, how does the artist deal with issues like light, color, and the human body? Does it demonstrate accurate proportion and anatomical structure? Or, like Gothic sculpture, does it show surface realism but not an understanding of the anatomy underneath? What were the artist’s goals when creating these works? What was going on in the Netherlands at that time (context) that helps explain this extraordinary artistic production?