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Adam Ploughing from the Dance of Death

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Picryl description: Public domain photo of Biblical art print, free to use, no copyright restrictions image.

Wenceslaus (or Vaclav) Hollar was born in Prague in 1607, at that time the capital of Bohemia. Hollar began sketching miniatures and maps in his youth. He learned the skills of copper engraving and the technique of etching with subtle gradations of tone and texture. In 1627 he left Prague and spent several years traveling around what is now Germany and Holland and Belgium. By 1636 he was in Cologne when Thomas Howard, Earl of Arundel, was passing through the city en-route to the Holy Roman Emperor in Vienna on a diplomatic mission. He invited Hollar to join his party to record the journey in pictures. The group traveled up the Rhine, through war-torn areas of Germany, back through the Lowlands and on to London. Howard lived at Arundel House on the Strand between London and Westminster and close to the royal palace at Whitehall. Arundel was one of the great connoisseurs and collectors of his time, a patron of Peter Paul Rubens and Anthony Van Dyke, both of whom he had attracted to London. Hollar soon began to make drawings of his adopted homeland Hollar worked on drawings for a catalog that Arundel intended to publish. There was a growing number of merchants, gentry, and aristocrats with an interest in purchasing books published by various printers based around or close to St.Paul’s Cathedral. The Earl of Arundel sent much of his collection to Antwerp while he went into exile in Italy, leaving his London home to be trashed by Parliamentary troops. He died in Padua in 1644. Hollar moved with his family across the North Sea to Antwerp. By 1652 the Civil War in England was over and many royalists returned from exile. Soon, Hollar came back to his adopted homeland where he remained for the rest of his life.

Hans Holbein the Younger was a German painter and printmaker who worked in a Northern Renaissance style, and is considered one of the greatest portraitists of the 16th century. He also produced religious art, satire, and Reformation propaganda, and he made a significant contribution to the history of book design.

The term "Northern Renaissance" refers to the art development of c.1430-1580 in the Netherlands Low Countries and Germany. The Low Countries, particularly Flanders with cities Antwerp, Ghent, and Bruges, were, along with Florence, the most economically advanced region in Europe. As in Florence, urban culture peaked here. The common understanding of the Renaissance places the birth of the Renaissance in Florence, Italy. Rennaisance's ideas migrated to Germany from Italy because of the travels of Albrecht Dϋrer. Northern artists such as Jan van Eyck remained attached to Medieval traditions. In their paintings, Low Countries painters attempted to reproduce space, color, volume, and light as naturalistically as possible. They achieved the perfection of oil paint in the almost impossible representation of things and objects. Rather than draw upon Classical Greek and Roman aesthetics like their Italian counterparts, Northern European Renaissance artists retained a Gothic sensibility of woodblock printing and illuminated manuscripts which clearly distinguished Northern Rennaisance art from Italian. Unlike Italian artists, northern painters were not interested in rediscovering the spirit of ancient Greece. Instead, they sought to exploit the full potential of oil paint, and capture nature exactly as they found it. Unlike their Italian counterparts, who embraced a mathematically calculated linear perspective and constructed a picture from within, Dutch artists used an empirical perspective with precise observation and knowledge of the consistency of light and things. They painted as they saw and came very close to the effect of central perspective. Long before Leonardo, they invented aerial and color perspectives. More, as with real-world human vision, their far-away shapes lose contours, and the intensity of the colors fades to a bluish hue. Robert Campin (c.1378-1444), was noted for works like the Seilern Triptych (1410) and the Merode Altarpiece (1425); Jan van Eyck (1390-1441) was noted for the Ghent Altarpiece (1432) and The Arnolfini Marriage (1434); Jan Eyck's pupil Petrus Christus (c.1410-75), best known for his Portrait of a Young Girl (1470, Gemaldegalerie, Berlin); Roger Van der Weyden (1400-64) noted for his extraordinary realism as in his masterpiece Descent From the Cross (Deposition) (1435), for the Church of Notre Dame du Dehors (now in the Museo del Prado, Madrid); Dieric Bouts (1420-75) for his devotional pictures; Hugo Van Der Goes (1440-82) famous for The Portinari Altarpiece (1475) which influenced the Early Renaissance in Florence; Hieronymus Bosch (1450-1516) noted for The Garden of Earthly Delights (1510-15) and other moralizing works; Joachim Patenier (1485-1524) the pioneer landscape painter; and Pieter Bruegel the Elder (c.1525-1569) known for landscape narratives such as The Tower of Babel (1563).

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1651
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Metropolitan Museum of Art
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hans holbein the younger
hans holbein the younger