The Early Modern World, C. 1300–1600

Northern European Renaissance

How is the Italian Renaissance different from the Renaissance in Northern Europe?

The Renaissance is said to have started in Italy and spread slowly north into the rest of Europe. This is not quite true, however. While the Italians were especially interested in Classical art, (they lived amongst Roman ruins after all), artists from Northern European countries such as France, Germany, and the Netherlands had different interests.

While artists of the Italian Renaissance were interested in the idealized nude, Classical architecture, and single-point perspective, Northern European painting of the time is characterized by intense realism and attention to detail. Northern artists were interested in the material quality of objects in the visible world. Important artists of the Northern Renaissance include Jan van Eyck, Roger van der Weyden, and Claus Sluter.


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