The Northern Renaissance was the Renaissance that occurred in Europe north of the Alps. From the last years of the 15th century, its Renaissance spread around Europe. Called the Northern Renaissance because it occurred north of the Italian Renaissance, this period became the German, French, English, Low Countries, Polish Renaissances and in turn other national and localized movements, each with different attributes.
In France, King Francis I imported Italian art, commissioned Italian artists (including Leonardo da Vinci), and built grand palaces at great expense, starting the French Renaissance. Trade and commerce in cities like Bruges in the 15th century and Antwerp in the 16th increased cultural exchange between Italy and the Low Countries, however in art, and especially architecture, late Gothic influences remained present until the arrival of Baroque even as painters increasingly drew on Italian models. 
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 Britain in the early 16th century - a process halted by the religious schism caused by Henry VIII who had earlier extensively employed Italian artisans at Nonsuch Palace and Hampton Court under Thomas Wolsey. 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.
Feudalism was on the decline at the beginning of the Renaissance. The reasons for this decline include the post-Plague environment, the increasing use of money rather than land as a medium of exchange, the growing number of serfs living as freemen, the formation of nation-states with monarchies interested in reducing the power of feudal lords, the increasing uselessness of feudal armies in the face of new military technology (such as gunpowder), and a general increase in agricultural productivity due to improving farming technology and methods. As in Italy, the decline of feudalism opened the way for the cultural, social, and economic changes associated with the Renaissance in Europe.
Finally, the Renaissance in Europe would also be kindled by a weakening of the Roman Catholic Church. The slow demise of feudalism also weakened a long-established policy in which church officials helped keep the population of the manor under control in return for tribute. Consequently, the early 15th century saw the rise of many secular institutions and beliefs. Among the most significant of these, Renaissance humanism would lay the philosophical grounds for much of Renaissance art, music, science and technology. Erasmus, for example, was important in spreading humanist ideas in the north, and was a central figure at the intersection of classical humanism and mounting religious questions. Forms of artistic expression which a century ago would have been banned by the church were now tolerated or even encouraged in certain circles.
The velocity of transmission of the Renaissance throughout Europe can also be ascribed to the invention of the printing press. Its power to disseminate information enhanced scientific research, spread political ideas and generally impacted the course of the Renaissance in northern Europe. As in Italy, the printing press increased the availability of books written in both vernacular languages and the publication of new and ancient classical texts in Greek and Latin. Furthermore, the Bible became widely available in translation, a factor often attributed to the spread of the Protestant Reformation.
One of the most important technological development of the Renaissance was the invention of the caravel. This combination of European and North 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, Giovanni da Verrazzano and Columbus, who were Italian explorers, the development would end Northern Italy's role as the trade crossroads of Europe, shifting wealth and power westwards to Portugal, Spain, 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.
Early Netherlandish painting often included complicated iconography, and art historians have debated the "hidden symbolism" of works by artists like Hubert and Jan van Eyck.
The detailed realism of Early Netherlandish painting, led by Robert Campin and Jan van Eyck in the 1420s and 1430s, is today generally considered to be the beginning of the early Northern Renaissance in painting. This detailed realism 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.
Around the same time, Albrecht Dürer made his two trips to Italy, where he was greatly admired for his prints. Dürer, in turn, was influenced by the art he saw there and is agreed to be one of the first Northern High Renaissance painters. Other notable northern painters such as Hans Holbein the Elder and Jean Fouquet, retained a Gothic influence that was still popular in the north, while highly individualistic artists such as Hieronymus Bosch and Pieter Bruegel the Elder developed styles that were imitated by many subsequent generations. Later in the 16th century Northern painters increasingly looked and travelled to Rome, becoming known as the Romanists. The High Renaissance art of Michelangelo and Raphael and the late Renaissance stylistic tendencies of Mannerism that were in vogue had a great impact on their work.
Renaissance humanism and the large number of surviving classical artworks and monuments encouraged many Italian painters to explore Greco-Roman themes more prominently than northern artists, and likewise the famous 15th-century German and Dutch paintings tend to be religious. In the 16th century, mythological and other themes from history became more uniform amongst northern and Italian artists. Northern Renaissance painters, however, had new subject matter, such as landscape and genre painting.
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.
The Renaissance is a period in European history marking the transition from the Middle Ages to modernity and covering the 15th and 16th centuries, characterized by an effort to revive and surpass ideas and achievements of classical antiquity. It occurred after the Crisis of the Late Middle Ages and was associated with great social change. In addition to the standard periodization, proponents of a "long Renaissance" may put its beginning in the 14th century and its end in the 17th century.
An altarpiece is an artwork such as a painting, sculpture or relief representing a religious subject made for placing at the back of or behind the altar of a Christian church. Though most commonly used for a single work of art such as a painting or sculpture, or a set of them, the word can also be used of the whole ensemble behind an altar, otherwise known as a reredos, including what is often an elaborate frame for the central image or images. Altarpieces were one of the most important products of Christian art especially from the late Middle Ages to the era of the Counter-Reformation.
International Gothic is a period of Gothic art which began in Burgundy, France, and northern Italy in the late 14th and early 15th century. It then spread very widely across Western Europe, hence the name for the period, which was introduced by the French art historian Louis Courajod at the end of the 19th century.
Hans von Aachen was a German painter who was one of the leading representatives of Northern Mannerism.
Renaissance art is the painting, sculpture, and decorative arts of the period of European history known as the Renaissance, which emerged as a distinct style in Italy in about AD 1400, in parallel with developments which occurred in philosophy, literature, music, science, and technology. Renaissance art took as its foundation the art of Classical antiquity, perceived as the noblest of ancient traditions, but transformed that tradition by absorbing recent developments in the art of Northern Europe and by applying contemporary scientific knowledge. Along with Renaissance humanist philosophy, it spread throughout Europe, affecting both artists and their patrons with the development of new techniques and new artistic sensibilities. For art historians, Renaissance art marks the transition of Europe from the medieval period to the Early Modern age.
The Italian Renaissance was a period in Italian history covering the 15th and 16th centuries. The period is known for the initial development of the broader Renaissance culture that spread across Western Europe and marked the transition from the Middle Ages to modernity. Proponents of a "long Renaissance" argue that it started around the year 1300 and lasted until about 1600. In some fields, a Proto-Renaissance, beginning around 1250, is typically accepted. The French word renaissance means "rebirth", and defines the period as one of cultural revival and renewed interest in Classical antiquity after the centuries during what Renaissance humanists labelled as the "Dark Ages". The Italian Renaissance historian Giorgio Vasari used the term rinascita ("rebirth") in his Lives of the Most Excellent Painters, Sculptors, and Architects in 1550, but the concept became widespread only in the 19th century, after the work of scholars such as Jules Michelet and Jacob Burckhardt.
Early Netherlandish painting, traditionally known as the Flemish Primitives, refers to the work of artists active in the Burgundian and Habsburg Netherlands during the 15th- and 16th-century Northern Renaissance period. It flourished especially in the cities of Bruges, Ghent, Mechelen, Leuven, Tournai and Brussels, all in present-day Belgium. The period begins approximately with Robert Campin and Jan van Eyck in the 1420s and lasts at least until the death of Gerard David in 1523, although many scholars extend it to the start of the Dutch Revolt in 1566 or 1568–Max J. Friedländer's acclaimed surveys run through Pieter Bruegel the Elder. Early Netherlandish painting coincides with the Early and High Italian Renaissance, but the early period is seen as an independent artistic evolution, separate from the Renaissance humanism that characterised developments in Italy. Beginning in the 1490s, as increasing numbers of Netherlandish and other Northern painters traveled to Italy, Renaissance ideals and painting styles were incorporated into northern painting. As a result, Early Netherlandish painters are often categorised as belonging to both the Northern Renaissance and the Late or International Gothic.
Karel van Mander (I) or Carel van Mander I (May 1548 – 2 September 1606) was a Flemish painter, poet, art historian and art theoretician, who established himself in the Dutch Republic in the latter part of his life. He is mainly remembered as a biographer of Early Netherlandish painters and Northern Renaissance artists in his Schilder-boeck. As an artist and art theoretician he played a significant role in the spread and development of Northern Mannerism in the Dutch Republic.
Gothic art was a style of medieval art that developed in Northern France out of Romanesque art in the 12th century AD, led by the concurrent development of Gothic architecture. It spread to all of Western Europe, and much of Northern, Southern and Central Europe, never quite effacing more classical styles in Italy. In the late 14th century, the sophisticated court style of International Gothic developed, which continued to evolve until the late 15th century. In many areas, especially Germany, Late Gothic art continued well into the 16th century, before being subsumed into Renaissance art. Primary media in the Gothic period included sculpture, panel painting, stained glass, fresco and illuminated manuscripts. The easily recognizable shifts in architecture from Romanesque to Gothic, and Gothic to Renaissance styles, are typically used to define the periods in art in all media, although in many ways figurative art developed at a different pace.
Petrus Christus was an Early Netherlandish painter active in Bruges from 1444, where, along with Hans Memling, he became the leading painter after the death of Jan van Eyck. He was influenced by van Eyck and Rogier van der Weyden and is noted for his innovations with linear perspective and a meticulous technique which seems derived from miniatures and manuscript illumination. Today, some 30 works are confidently attributed to him. The best known include the Portrait of a Carthusian (1446) and Portrait of a Young Girl ; both are highly innovative in the presentation of the figure against detailed, rather than flat, backgrounds.
The German Renaissance, part of the Northern Renaissance, was a cultural and artistic movement that spread among German thinkers in the 15th and 16th centuries, which developed from the Italian Renaissance. Many areas of the arts and sciences were influenced, notably by the spread of Renaissance humanism to the various German states and principalities. There were many advances made in the fields of architecture, the arts, and the sciences. Germany produced two developments that were to dominate the 16th century all over Europe: printing and the Protestant Reformation.
Flemish painting flourished from the early 15th century until the 17th century, gradually becoming distinct from the painting of the rest of the Low Countries, especially the modern Netherlands. In the early period, up to about 1520, the painting of the whole area is typically considered as a whole, as Early Netherlandish painting. This was dominated by the Flemish south, but painters from the north were also important. Dutch and Flemish Renaissance painting, of which Antwerp became the centre, covers the period up to about 1580 or later, by the end of which the north and south Netherlands had become politically separated. Flemish Baroque painting was especially important in the first half of the 17th century, dominated by Rubens.
Antwerp Mannerism is the name given to the style of a group of largely anonymous painters active in the Southern Netherlands and principally in Antwerp in roughly the first three decades of the 16th century, a movement marking the tail end of Early Netherlandish painting, and an early phase within Dutch and Flemish Renaissance painting. The style bore no relation to Italian Mannerism, which it mostly predates by a few years, but the name suggests that it was a reaction to the "classic" style of the earlier Flemish painters, just as the Italian Mannerists were reacting to, or trying to go beyond, the classicism of High Renaissance art.
The Renaissance in the Low Countries was a cultural period in the Northern Renaissance that took place in around the 16th century in the Low Countries.
Romanism is a term used by art historians to refer to painters from the Low Countries who had travelled in the 16th century to Rome. In Rome they had absorbed the influence of leading Italian artists of the period such as Michelangelo and Raphael and his pupils. Upon their return home, these Northern artists created a Renaissance style, which assimilated Italian formal language. The style continued its influence until the early 17th century when it was swept aside by the Baroque.
Dutch and Flemish Renaissance painting represents the 16th-century response to Italian Renaissance art in the Low Countries. These artists, who span from the Antwerp Mannerists and Hieronymus Bosch at the start of the 16th century to the late Northern Mannerists such as Hendrik Goltzius and Joachim Wtewael at the end, drew on both the recent innovations of Italian painting and the local traditions of the Early Netherlandish artists. Antwerp was the most important artistic centre in the region. Many artists worked for European courts, including Bosch, whose fantastic painted images left a long legacy. Jan Mabuse, Maarten van Heemskerck and Frans Floris were all instrumental in adopting Italian models and incorporating them into their own artistic language. Pieter Brueghel the Elder, with Bosch the only artist from the period to remain widely familiar, may seem atypical, but in fact his many innovations drew on the fertile artistic scene in Antwerp.
The art of the Low Countries consists of painting, sculpture, architecture, printmaking, pottery and other forms of visual art produced in the Low Countries, and since the 19th century in Belgium in the southern Netherlands and the Netherlands in the north.
Northern Mannerism is the form of Mannerism found in the visual arts north of the Alps in the 16th and early 17th centuries. Styles largely derived from Italian Mannerism were found in the Netherlands and elsewhere from around the mid-century, especially Mannerist ornament in architecture; this article concentrates on those times and places where Northern Mannerism generated its most original and distinctive work.
Despite its size, Belgium has a long and distinguished artistic tradition that goes back to the Middle Ages, considerably pre-dating the foundation of the current state in 1830. Art from the areas making up modern Belgium is called in English Netherlandish up to the separation with the Netherlands from 1570 on, and Flemish until the 18th century.
The world landscape, a translation of the German Weltlandschaft, is a type of composition in Western painting showing an imaginary panoramic landscape seen from an elevated viewpoint that includes mountains and lowlands, water, and buildings. The subject of each painting is usually a Biblical or historical narrative, but the figures comprising this narrative element are dwarfed by their surroundings.