Hans Memling - The Annunciation, 15th century
Public domain reproduction of artwork, 15th-16th century, free to use, no copyright restrictions image - Picryl description
The Annunciation is a biblical event in which the angel Gabriel appeared to the Virgin Mary to announce that she had been chosen to give birth to Jesus, the Son of God. The event is recorded in the New Testament in the Gospels of Luke and is a central moment in the story of the Nativity of Jesus. The scene typically depicts Mary and Gabriel, who is usually shown holding a lily, a symbol of purity, and announcing the news of the birth of Jesus to Mary.
The Dutch School painters can be dated as Early Netherlandish (1400–1500), Dutch Renaissance (1500–1584), and, later, Dutch Golden Age painting in the United Provinces. 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 style 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) were unrelated to Italian Mannerism. Among notable northern painters were highly individualistic artists such as Hieronymus Bosch and Pieter Bruegel the Elder who developed styles that were imitated by many subsequent generations. In the 16th century northern painters increasingly traveled to Italy, so the art of Michelangelo and Raphael and the late Renaissance Mannerism had a great impact on their work. Hieronymus Bosch and Geertgen tot Sint Jans are well-known examples of fifteenth- and sixteenth-century Dutch painters. In the northern Netherlands, the Reformation brought religious painting almost completely to an end. Portrait painting was slow to spread from the elite to new riches. 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. Between 1605 and 1635 over 100,000 paintings were produced in Haarlem. Rembrandt van Rijn, Frans Hals, Johannes Vermeer, Jacob van Ruisdael, and Jan Steen are just a few names form the seventeenth century.
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).