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Early Netherlandish Paintings

Early Netherlandish Paintings: Rediscovery, Reception and Research

Copyright Date: 2005
Pages: 481
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  • Book Info
    Early Netherlandish Paintings
    Book Description:

    The so-called Flemish Primitives, a group of 15th-century painters from the Southern Netherlands, acquired their name in the 19th century. Among them were the world-famous artists such as Rogier van der Weyden, Hans Memling, the brothers Van Eyck, and Hugo van der Goes. Their masterpieces, oil paintings minutely detailed in luminous colour, are a high point of Western European art , which, together with the Italian Renaissance paintings, laid foundations for the modern art. This scholarly in-depth analysis focuses on the artistic, religious an social significance of their art, as well as how the paintings themselves were collected, evaluated and studied over the centuries.

    eISBN: 978-90-485-0522-7
    Subjects: Art & Art History

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. I-V)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. VI-VII)
  3. General Introduction
    (pp. VIII-X)

    In the early nineteenth century, Johanna Schopenhauer, the mother of the great philosopher, visited the collection of early Netherlandish and early German pictures of the Boisserée brothers in Heidelberg. The visit inspired her to learn more about the masters who executed the works, and the result was a two-volume book about ‘Jan van Eyck and his followers’, published in 1822, the first monograph on this subject. That Johanna Schopenhauer’s desire to know more about these artists led to a publication can be attributed to her passion for writing – she produced one book after another – but also to the state of...


    • CHAPTER 1 Objects and Questions
      (pp. 4-170)

      Since Erwin Panofsky published his classicEarly Netherlandish Paintingin 1953, an enormous amount of new data has come to light which has greatly deepened our knowledge of fifteenth-century art from the Low Countries. It would not be easy, however, and might prove impossible to write another synthetic study. Although some of Panofsky’s views are outdated, for example those on the development of the individual artistic personalities, no alternative basis has been found for a comprehensive survey. Research into the artistic production of the early Netherlands takes place nowadays primarily within subdisciplines such as technical examination, archival research, and iconology....


    • CHAPTER 2 Collecting Early Netherlandish Paintings in Europe and the United States
      (pp. 173-217)

      The history of collecting early Netherlandish paintings spans different periods. This chapter begins with the earliest collections, it focuses on the rediscovery and collecting of these works from the French Revolution until the third quarter of the nineteenth century, and it concludes with a brief outline of American collecting at the turn of the twentieth century.

      In the sixteenth century, Margaret of Austria, regent of the Low Countries, amassed a sizeable collection in her palace at Mechlin, which included, beside works of art by contemporary masters, panels by Rogier van der Weyden and Hans Memling, and even one of the...

    • CHAPTER 3 From Waagen to Friedländer
      (pp. 218-251)

      When, in the early nineteenth century, the reassessment and collecting of early Netherlandish painting began to stimulate art-historical research, scholars were faced with the summary, indeed fragmentary character of their knowledge of the painters and their works. Since archival research on early Netherlandish masters was undertaken only later, the available historical sources were limited. Among them were the passages on Jan van Eyck and Rogier van der Weyden that the Italian humanist and historian Bartolomeo Fazio wrote in hisDe viris illustribusof 1456; they cite works by these artists, which were in Italy at the time.¹ Giorgio Vasari’s famous...

    • CHAPTER 4 Realism, Renaissance and Nationalism
      (pp. 252-290)

      Nineteenth-century historical discussions of early Netherlandish painting were primarily concerned with its place within the development of European civilization.¹ But the more that was written about it, the more enigmatic the art of the van Eyck brothers and their contemporaries seemed to be, defying easy assignment to one of the usual categories. Was it a new beginning or a final stage? How was it related to the art developing elsewhere in Europe, especially in Italy? What did it have in common with the art, that flourished later on in the Low Countries? And how did it reflect the social life...


    • CHAPTER 5 Technical Examination
      (pp. 292-329)

      The most striking difference about the present-day study of early Netherlandish painting as compared to the nineteenth century is the application of technical methods. These methods elucidate physical and technical aspects of paintings that, when analyzed in an art-historical context, can help in understanding the working methods of the painters.

      Technical methods were first systematically employed in restoration laboratories to learn more about the physical condition of paintings and to detect over-painting. Starting in the 1920s, the use of X-rays, ultraviolet and infrared light was introduced in rapid succession.¹ What these methods have in common is that they can reveal...

    • CHAPTER 6 The Corpus of Fifteenth-Century Painting in the Southern Netherlands and the Principality of Liège
      (pp. 330-344)

      In 1949 the Centre national de recherches ‘Primitifs flamands’/Nationaal Centrum voor de Navorsingen over Vlaamse Primitieven was established in Brussels. It now bears the rather grand name of Centre international d’étude de la peinture médiévale des bassins de l’Escaut et de la Meuse/Internationaal Studiecentrum voor de Middeleeuwse Schilderkunst in het Schelde en Maasbekken. The Center is allied with the Royal Institute of Cultural Heritage, which was established in 1946 under the name Archives centrales iconographiques d’art national et du Laboratoire central des Musées de Belgique, or ACL.

      The foundation of both the ACL and the Centre national should be seen...

    • CHAPTER 7 Patronage
      (pp. 345-377)

      Whereas technical investigations of early Netherlandish paintings developed after World War II, the study of patronage has a much longer tradition, one that goes back to the first half of the nineteenth century. Already at this early stage of scholarship, knowledge of the patron of a picture was considered to be important for understanding its historical significance. In 1833 the artist Ernst Förster sold Rogier van der Weyden’sMedici Virgin[FIG. 148] to the Städelsches Kunstinstitut in Frankfurt.¹ In his correspondence with the museum’s director, Philipp Veit, prior to the delivery of the panel, Förster pointed not only to the...

    • CHAPTER 8 Iconography and Iconology
      (pp. 378-406)

      Admiration has always been accorded to early Netherlandish painting due to its visual realism, the way it seemed to reproduce, on a two-dimensional surface, aspects of the world we see around us. Writing in 1456, the Italian historian Bartolomeo Fazio marveled at a now lost work by Jan van Eyck where:

      there is a lantern in the bath chamber, just like one lit, and an old woman seemingly sweating, a puppy lapping up water, and also horses, minute figures of men, mountains, groves, hamlets, and castles, carried out with such skill you would believe one was fifty miles distant from...

  7. NOTES
    (pp. 407-438)
    (pp. 439-468)
    (pp. 469-474)
  10. INDEX
    (pp. 475-481)