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Unit information: Art of the Northern Renaissance (Level H Lecture Response Unit) in 2018/19

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Unit name Art of the Northern Renaissance (Level H Lecture Response Unit)
Unit code HART30043
Credit points 20
Level of study H/6
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 1 (weeks 1 - 12)
Unit director Professor. Williamson
Open unit status Not open




School/department Department of History of Art (Historical Studies)
Faculty Faculty of Arts


The focus of this unit will be on painting in the Netherlands, looking in particular at the greatest painters of the Northern Renaissance: Jan van Eyck, Robert Campin, Rogier van der Weyden, Hans Memling, Hugo van der Goes and Petrus Christus.

The glories of the Italian Renaissance have sometimes been allowed to overshadow the equally fascinating and extraordinary art that was produced in the north of Europe during the same period. Equally, assumptions about what the Renaissance was, and what the term means, have largely proceeded from considerations of Italian art. We will consider the ways in which the term might have differing meanings and differing implications when used in a northern European context.

Key issues to be considered may include: the ways in which the term 'Renaissance' is used, both now and in the past, and what it means (and has meant) in historical and art-historical scholarship focussing on northern europe; the ways in which the 'Northern Renaissance' may be seen as distinct from the 'Italian Renaissance'; patronage, function, and reception of – and trade in – the art of northern Europe.

Intended learning outcomes

On successful completion of this unit students will be able to:

(1) articulate an understanding of the development of art during the Northern Renaissance;

(2) analyse and generalise about how and why the art of the Northern Renaissance differed to that produced in Italy;

(3) select pertinent evidence/data in order to illustrate/demonstrate more general issues and arguments;

(4) identify a particular academic interpretation, evaluate it critically, and form an individual viewpoint.

Teaching details

1 x 2hr informal lecture and 1 x 1hr seminar per week

Assessment Details

One summative coursework essay of 3000 words (50%) and one unseen examination of two hours comprising 2 questions out of 8 (50%). Both elements will assess ILOs 1 - 4.

Reading and References

Susie Nash, Northern Renaissance Art (2008)

J. Snyder, Northern Renaissance Art (1985)

Jeffrey Chipps Smith, Art of the Northern Renaissance (2004)

K. W. Woods (ed.), Making Renaissance Art (2007)

C. M. Richardson (ed.), Locating Renaissance Art (2007)

K.W. Woods, C.M. Richardson and A. Lymberopoulou, Viewing Renaissance Art (2007)

J. Dunkerton, et al, Giotto to Dürer: Early Renaissance Painting in the National Gallery, London (1991)

T. Müller, Sculpture in the Netherlands, Germany, France and Spain, 1400-1500 (1966)

M. Belozerskaya, Rethinking the Renaissance: Burgundian Arts across Europe (2002)