Gothic Era


(Gothic and Early Renaissance)


European Painting from the 13th to the 15 th Century




Gothic Art Map
Exploration: Revelations (Art of the Apocalypse)
Exploration: Gothic Era  (Gothic and Early Renaissance)
 M. of the Glatz Madonna Masaccio Starnina Taddeo di Bartolo
 M. Theodoric Masolino M. Westphalian Marco Zoppo
 Torriti Jacopo Hans Memling M. of Schloss Altar Holbein the Younger
 Stefan Lochner Rogier van der Weyden M. Norwegian Andrea Mantegna
 Bonaventura Berlinghieri Hugo van der Goes Derick Baegert Cosme Tura
 M. Bertram of Munden Gerard David Lukas Moser Holbein the Elder
 M. of Kaufmann Crucifixion  Antonello da Messina M. of Albrecht Altar M. of Book of Hours
 M. of Wittingau Piero della Francesca Frances Nicolas M. of Alkmaar
 Lippo Memmi Pedro Berruguete Master E.S. M. Francke
 M. of Narbonne Parament M. of Westminster Altar Martin Schongauer M. of the Gothic Art
 Malouel Jean M. of Psalter of de Lisle Israhel van Meckenem Bernat Martorell
 M. of Wilton Dyptych M. of Cologne Workshop Bartolome Bermejo Michael Pacher
 Borrassa Lluis Sassetta Fernando Gallego Quentin Massys
 Pisanello Jaume Huguet Hans Multscher Nuno Goncalves
 Konrad of Soest Nicolas Froment Colantonio Martinus Opifex
 M. of the Ortenberg Altar M. of St. Veronica  Lluis Dalmau Juan de Levi
 Filippo Brunelleschi M. of the Paradise Garden Barthelemy d'Eyck Saxon Workshop
 Joos van Gent Limburg brothers M. of Life of the Virgin Lorenzo Monaco
 Bartolo di Fredi Robert Campin M. of St. Bartholomew Jean Fouquet
 Hubert & Jan van Eyck Konrad Witz Dieric Bouts Jacopo Bellini 

Albrecht Durer

Master of Wittingau

Master of the Narbonne Parament

See also collection:

Lippo Memmi


Pathways to the International Style

Even as an important basis was here being established for the extraordinarily homogeneous style that would stamp itself upon the art of western and central Europe around 1400, so in Tuscany Giotto and Simone Martini had set standards which were almost impossible to surpass. For their contemporaries and followers, consequently, it was a matter of consolidating what had been achieved rather than of embarking upon something new. In Siena, such important painters as Lippo Memmi (active 1317-c. 1350) and Pietro Lorenzetti (c. 1280/90-1348) further developed the art of Simone, while in Florence Taddeo Gaddi (active c. 1325—1366) and others embraced the legacy of Giotto. A certain artistic paralysis now set in. A contributory factor here was the outbreak in 1348/49 of the Black Death, which spread throughout Europe in just a few months and in some places carried off over half the population, including many artists — Pietro Lorenzetti  perhaps among them. Stagnation and increasingly empty routine would make the Italian artists only too eager to embrace the new trends of the International Gothic towards the end of the century.
New impetus would eventually come from the northern centres of Paris and Prague. While the trauma of 1348 continued to be processed in many places in extremely expressive Crucifixions and Lamentations, the forerunners of the International Gothic were already formulating the new style which, around 1400, would dominate the whole of non-Byzantine Europe. At almost the same time as Theoderic was painting his monumental, melancholy saints for Karlstein castle - the crystallization-point of Charles IV's cultural, political and religious ambitions - the Prague sculptors were unveiling their quite different art, its figures more stereotypical than individual, more elegant than earthly. Their influence immediately began radiating out to neighbouring Silesia, which belonged to Bohemia, and on to Salzburg.
There were enough branches of the Parler dynasty of artists alone to ensure close exchanges with the Rhineland. Characteristic features of this Prague school include Lamentations and, above all, the aptly-named Schone Madonnen ("Beautiful Madonnas"). Alongside their technical perfection, these latter are distinguished by the dynamic sweep of their bodies, an affected pose, faces of an almost saccharine sweetness and in particular a volume of draperies arranged with consummate skill, which tumble down the sides in rich cascades and conclude in a virtuoso sea of undulating hems.
Judging by the quality, number and geographical spread of the works which followed, this aesthetic revolution must have captivated other artists of the day as far away as Italy and even distant Spain. At home, it was translated into painting by the Master of Wittingau (active c. 1380-1390), the last great artist which the Bohemian school, which flow ered for just a few decades, would produce. He underlines once again the importance of the new style not just for Bohemia, but for Europe as a whole: almost all the elements which would be central to European painting around 1400 are present in his Wittingau Altar.  



Master of Wittingau
The Agony in the Garden
c. 1380-1390
(from the altar of the Augustinian Canons' church of St Aegidius)
Narodni Galeri, Prague

Master of Wittingau
The Resurrection
c. 1380-1390
(from the altar of the Augustinian Canons' church of St Aegidius)
Narodni Galeri, Prague

Theoderic's ample figures are reduced to an almost painful thinness: extremities, faces, all are now elongated and fragile; fingers resemble spider's legs. The slender silhouettes are clad all the more expressively in thin, generously cut robes. In a similar fashion to the sculptures mentioned above, the Christ in the Resurrection is enveloped in a cascade of folds ending in a rich swirling hem. Anecdotal details have assumed much greater importance — even where, as in the case of the many birds in the Resurrection, there is little obvious justification for their inclusion in the scene.
The quality of the execution struggles to match the inventiveness of the composition, however. As in the case of the Hohenfurth Altar, the paintings that have come down to us are perhaps only indirect reflections of the true, but now lost masterpieces of their day. There is another striking feature about the Wittingau Altar. As remained the convention in various regions up to the 16th century, the majestic gold ground is restricted to the interior panels, which in Wittingau are reserved — again in line with convention — for standing figures of saints. The narrative scenes on the altar's exterior, on the other hand, employ a red ground dotted with gold stars, which engages in a powerfully expressive interplay with the red of certain draperies. The impression made by the landscape, with its individual elements executed in such particular detail, is also intensified by the complementary colour of the background. There may have been earlier instances of this phenomenon, too, in works that are now lost.
This style had its roots in the Paris court art of the years around 1300, where its forms battled against more abstract tendencies throughout the 14th century. Years before the Wittingau Altar, the Parisian Master of the Narbonne Parament (active c. 1375— um 1400) had demonstrated, in the work which gave him his name, his familiarity with the elegant flow of movement, slender silhouettes and the exuberant undulation of fabric hems.



Master of the Narbonne Parament
Paramentdoration of the Child
c. 1390
(miniature from the Tres Belles Heures de Notre-Dame)
Museo Civico d'Arte Antica, Turin



Master of the Narbonne Parament
Entombment, Descent into Hell and Noli me tangere
c. 1375
Musee du Luvre, Paris


Master of the Trebon Altarpiece
Bohamian painter (active in 1380-1400)
The Adoration of Jesus
Before 1380
Alsova Jihoceska Galeria, Hluboka


See also collection:

Lippo Memmi


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