Room one

Medieval, Renaissance and Reformation, 1300 - 1600AD

In the century and a half up to the Protestant Reformation and the revolutionary events which sprung from it after 1517, the countries of northern Europe, the Netherlands, Flanders (now northern France and Belgium), France, Germany and England, produced some of the most intense religious art in Europe. The combination of emotional imagery and abundant realistic detail was also influential in Southern Europe, particularly Spain, the political overlord of Flanders and the Netherlands until the late sixteenth century. Where there was no strong centralising power, as in Germany, regional often isolated schools of painting grew up in city states and petty kingdoms. 

The Protestant Reformation had a dramatic effect on painting and image-making in these countries. In the northern Netherlands which fought for its independence from Catholic Spain, much painting and sculpture was destroyed by Protestant iconoclastic action never to be replaced again. As well as religious paintings this room contains portraits and mythological scenes. The latter arose from a growing interest in Northern Europe in the myths and history of classical Rome and Greece. In those states converted to the Protestant faith these subjects along with portraiture became the dominant artistic themes.

Room highlights include:

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