Top Ten Northern Renaissance Painters

Top Ten Northern Renaissance Painter

Albrecht Dürer1

       The Renaissance in the north has a distinctively different character than that of Italy and the southern countries. Though the styles of Northern artists vary according to geography, one characteristic that is fundamental to all northern art of this period is a fondness for meticulous rendering of details. In addition, there is generally less of the classical ideal apparent in the figures (which can be partly explained by their lack of access to Greek and Roman statues). Instead, remnants of Gothic influences are apparent in their compositions.

  1. Hans Memling (1430-1494)

    Hans Memling was probably born around the year 1430. Memling probably served his apprenticeship at Mainz or Cologne, and later worked under Rogier van der Weyden. He did not come to Bruges until about 1467, and certainly not as a wounded fugitive from the field of Nancy. The story is fiction, as is also the report that he was sheltered and cured by the Hospitallers at Bruges, and, to show his gratitude, refused payment for a picture he had painted. Memling did indeed paint for the Hospitallers, but he painted not one but many pictures, and he did so in 1479 and 1480, being probably known to his patrons of St John by many masterpieces even before the battle of Nancy.
    Links: Top Ten Paintings by Hans Memling,,
  2. Albrecht Altdorfer (1480-1538)

    Albrecht Altdorfer (c. 1480 near Regensburg – February 12, 1538 in Regensburg) was a painter, the leader of the Danubian School in southern Germany, and a contemporary of Albrecht Dürer. Little is known about the life of this German painter. It is however assumed that he was an apprentice at an ateliet of miniaturists, because his early works resemble these techniques. Two of his biggest influences were Lucas Cranach the Elder and Max Reichlich.
    Links: Top Ten Paintings by Albrecht Altdorfer,,
  3. Hieronymus Bosch (1453-1516)
    Hieronymus BoschHieronymus BoschHieronymus Bosch3
           Hieronymus Bosch, also Jeroen Bosch, (1453 – 1516) was a prolific Dutch painter of the 15th and 16th century. Many of his works depict sin and human moral failings; they contain complex, highly original, imaginative, and dense use of symbolic figures and iconography, some of which was obscure even in his own time. He is said to have been an inspiration to the surrealism movement in the 20th century. His true name was Hieronymus (or Jeroen) van Aken. He signed some of his paintings with Bosch (pronounced as Boss in Dutch), derived from his birthplace ‘s-Hertogenbosch. In Spanish he is often called El Bosco.
    Links: Top Ten Paintings Hieronymus Bosch,
  4. Pieter Brueghel the Elder (1525-1569)

    Pieter Brueghel the Elder was born around 1525 (the exact date is unknown) in the Latin Breda. However there is a bit of confusion about this place, because the Latin Breda could stand for the town Breda in Holland or for the Belgian town Bree. However Brueghel is certainly considered to be Belgian. Brueghel’s early influences include his teacher Pieter Coecke van Aelst and Hieronymus Bosch. Pieter Brueghel later married the daughter of his teacher, Mayke. In 1551 Brueghel was accepted as a master in the painters guild of Antwerp and only shortly after, he started travelling. Pieter Brueghel the Elder travelled to France and Italy, to finally settle in Brussels. Brueghel often disguised himself as a peasant to acquire inspiration for his paintings. This led to his nickname “Peasant Brueghel”. Brueghel often painted rural scenes, but is also known for painting wonderful landscapes. Brueghel was one of the first painters who painted landscapes for their own sake, rather than as a backdrop to a religious allegory. During the last years of his life Bruegel was much influenced by Italian Renaissance art with its inclination towards the monumental. This can be seen in such works as The Peasant Wedding, The Peasant Dance and The Peasant and the Birdnester, where the figures are larger in scale, more in the foreground, with a lower viewpoint and less emphasis on the setting. However he still continued to produce works in his earlier style with small figures in panoramic settings and his only real relationship with the Italian style in any of his paintings is in the simplicity of form rather than in the idealization of character. Pieter Brueghel the Elder died September 9, 1569, in Brussels.
    Links: Top Ten Paintings by Pieter Brueghel the Elder, Top Ten Paintings by Pieter Brueghel the Younger,,
  5. Albrecht Dürer (1471-1528)
    Albrecht Dürer1
           Albrecht Dürer (May 21, 1471 – April 6, 1528) was a German painter, wood carver and engraver. He is best known for his woodcuts in series, including the Apocalypse (1498), two series on the crucifixion of Christ, the Great Passion (1498-1510) and the Little Passion (1510-11) as well as many of his individual prints, such as Knight, Death, and the Devil (1513) and Melancholia I (1514). He was born in Nuremberg. His family came from Hungary, germanizing the family name of Thürer when they settled in Nuremberg soon after the middle of the 15th century. His father, also called Albrecht, was a goldsmith and served as assistant to Hieronymus Helfer, and in 1468 married his daughter Barbara. They had eighteen children, of whom Albrecht was the second. Albrecht’s brother, Hans Dürer, became a famous artist as well. At the age of fifteen Dürer was apprenticed to the principal painter of the town, Michael Wolgemut, a prolific if undistinguished producer of small works in the late Gothic style. Dürer learned not only painting but also wood carving and elementary copper engraving under Wolgemut. At the end of his apprenticeship in 1490 he travelled (Wanderjahre). In 1492 he arrived in Colmar, intending to study under Martin Schöngauer, a well regarded painter-engraver of his time. He found that Schongauer had died the previous year, but he was received kindly by the family of the deceased master there and in Basel. Under them he evidently had some practice both in metal-engraving and in furnishing designs for the woodcutter. He left Basel some time in 1494 and travelled briefly in the Low Countries before he returned to Nuremberg. From this period, little of the work that can be attributed to him with certainty survives.
    Links: Top Ten Paintings by Albrecht Dürer, Top Ten Drawings by Albrecht Dürer,,
  6. Pieter Brueghel the Younger (1564-1638)

           Pieter Brueghel the Younger was born as the son of Pieter Brueghel the Elder in the year 1564 in Belgium. When he was only five years old, his father died. Pieter Brueghel the Younger received his artistic training from Flemish landscape painter Gilles van Coninxloo. Brueghel later even married the sister of his master. Pieter Brueghel the Younger became a master in 1585. He then started painting landscapes, religious subjects and fantasy paintings. For this last category he often made use of fire and grotesque figures, leading to his nickname “Hell Brueghel.” Apart from these own inspired paintings, Pieter Brueghel the Younger also copied the works his father created, thus often leading to confusion which of the two actually painted the painting. Pieter Brueghel the Younger died in the year 1638.
    Links: Top Ten Paintings by Pieter Brueghel the Younger, Top Ten Paintings by Pieter Brueghel the Elder,,
  7. Quentin Massys (1466-1530)
    Quentin Massys
           Quentin Matsys, his first name also recorded as Quinten or Kwinten and his last name as Massys or Metsys (1466 – 1530), was a painter in the Flemish tradition and a founder of the Antwerp school. He was born at Leuven, where he was trained as an ironsmith. Near the front of the Cathedral of Our Lady in Antwerp is a wrought-iron well, known as the “Matsys Well,” which according to tradition was made by the painter-to-be. During the greater part of the 15th century, the centres in which the painters of the Low Countries most congregated were Bruges, Ghent and Brussels. Leuven gained prominence toward the close of this period, employing workmen from all of the crafts. Not until the beginning of the 16th century did Antwerp take the lead which it afterward maintained against Bruges, Ghent, Brussels, Mechelen and Leuven. Matsys, as a member of the Antwerp guild, was one of its first notable artists.
    Links: Top Ten Paintings by Quentin Massys,
  8. Jan van Eyck (1385-1441)

           Jan van Eyck (1385 – 1441) was a 15th century Flemish painter and one of the first to popularize oil paint. Jan belonged to the Van Eyck family of painters and was a younger brother of Hubert van Eyck.
    Links: Top Ten Paintings by Jan van Eyck,,
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