Northern Renaissance 1430 – 1580

The adoption in northern Europe, mainly Germany and the Netherlands, of the artistic ideals of the Italian Renaissance The prime mover was the German artist Albrecht Dürer (1471–1528) who travelled twice to Italy to discover the ‘secrets’ of the Italian masters, especially the mathematical principles of perspecitve and proportion Dürer’s own ideas were widely disseminated through his prints and his writings Flemish artists who travelled to Italy and were strongly influenced by its art included Jan Gossaert and Jan van Scorel

The Northern Renaissance was the Renaissance that occurred in Europe north of the Alps Before 1497, Italian Renaissance humanism had little influence outside Italy From the late 15th century, its ideas spread around Europe This influenced the German Renaissance, French Renaissance, English Renaissance, Renaissance in the Low Countries, Polish Renaissance and other national and localized movements, each with different characteristics and strengths

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Universities and the printed book helped spread the spirit of the age through France, the Low Countries and the Holy Roman Empire, and then to Scandinavia and finally Britain by the late 16th century Writers and humanists such as Rabelais, Pierre de Ronsard and Desiderius Erasmus were greatly influenced by the Italian Renaissance model and were part of the same intellectual movement During the English Renaissance (which overlapped with the Elizabethan era) writers such as William Shakespeare and Christopher Marlowe composed works of lasting influence The Renaissance was brought to Poland directly from Italy by artists from Florence and the Low Countries, starting the Polish Renaissance

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, most of Europe began emerging as nation-states or even unions of countries The Northern Renaissance was also closely linked to the Protestant Reformation with the resulting long series of internal and external conflicts between various Protestant groups and the Roman Catholic Church having lasting effects

One of the most important technological development of the Renaissance was the invention of the caravel This combination of European and African 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 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, England, and the Netherlands 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

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

As Renaissance art styles moved through northern Europe, they changed and were adapted to local customs In England and the northern Netherlands the Reformation brought religious painting almost completely to an end Despite several very talented Artists of the Tudor Court in England, portrait painting was slow to spread from the elite In France the School of Fontainebleau was begun by Italians such as Rosso Fiorentino in the latest Mannerist style, but succeeded in establishing a durable national style By the end of the 16th century, artists such as Karel van Mander and Hendrik Goltzius collected in Haarlem in a brief but intense phase of Northern Mannerism that also spread to Flanders