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Northern Renaissance Art (Oxford History of Art) 1st Edition

4.8 out of 5 stars 9 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0192842695
ISBN-10: 0192842692
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Editorial Reviews

Review

Nash weaves a broad, intricate tapestry of the cultures and material practices of art. Joseph Leo Koerner, Harvard University An excellent, in-depth overview exploring themes central to contemporary art history studies. Kim Woods, The Open University brilliant overview. Burlington Magazine

About the Author


Susie Nash is senior lecturer in Northern Renaissance Art at the Courtauld Institute of Art in London. She is also the founder and director of the Courtauld Institute Summer School programme and has published widely on northern Renaissance art, including most recently a study of the famous Well of Moses by Claus Sluter.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 368 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press; 1 edition (January 29, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0192842692
  • ISBN-13: 978-0192842695
  • Product Dimensions: 9.3 x 0.9 x 6.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #274,007 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
This is a great introduction to Renaissance Art, and a provocative read for those already familiar with this time. Nash argues that Italy wasn't necessarily the center of Renaissance Art, and defends her argument well with beautiful full-color reproductions of stunning art and very accessible text.
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a daring and fresh approach to the Northern Renaissance art, challenging well established views of Panofsky, James Snyder and other authorities in placing the art of the North in a different historical context and its place in the history of western art.
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I read this book in conjunction with an online Art History class covering the Northern Renaissance offered through Oxford University's continuing education program. It roughly covers the period 1350 to the early 1500s, in other words it coincides with the great blossoming of Netherlandish and German artist output during these years.

Despite the fact that it is widely used as a textbook for collegiate Art History classes, Northern Renaissance Art is nonetheless excellent and would be well worth reading for its own sake. Nash's main thesis caught me by surprise: 1) Northern artists and artistic output were in the ascendancy from the late 14th century through the 15th century; 2) Italy sought out Northern crafts and artistic items, which were viewed as highly desirable and unobtainable elsewhere; 3) Italian artists - Nash specifically mentions Michelangelo (!) – looked at and learned from Northern artists such as Memling and van Eyck, incorporating their stylistic approaches and techniques into their own work; and 4) it wasn’t until the 16th century that roles began to reverse, with Italian artists moving to the fore. To me this represents a rather dramatic reversal of decades of Italy-centric scholarship, in fact it turns the traditional narrative of a Florence-led Renaissance on its head. Apparently, however, this view has entered the mainstream in recent decades, which shows just how out of touch I am with trends in the scholarship (unsurprising since I last formally studied Art History in mid-70s).

Also, I had not fully appreciated the impact of Reformation iconoclasm on existing artworks in the early 1500s.
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Format: Paperback
I think this is the best book in the Oxford History of Art series. It is extremely well written, and the illustrations are excellent, some superb. The book covers a number of things many art books do not, and this book is the more valuable because of that. It covers production, markets, materials, and something of the life of artists, not as biography really, but as people--mostly men, given the era--using their creativity to create original works within the traditions of religious art.

One fascinating detail I had been utterly unaware of, is that the art was movable: foldable wings, works hoisted and lowered during service, movable limbs on sculpture. The sense is that the art is not the stiff immovable things we see in museums, but art that was part of daily living and was not decoration but useful. The book is full of such surprises. There is consideration of technique, of market and buyers, and more. The art covered is primarily Flemish and Dutch, with some German and English, and a bit elsewhere. This is a superb book overall.
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Format: Paperback
I have a shelf-full of histories of early Dutch and Flemish painting. Nash's book is different from all of them -- and it's a wonderful thing. Rather than pursue the traditional artist-by-artist, school-by-school approach (though her chapter on Memling shows she could have pulled that off without breaking a sweat), Nash has chosen to smash the traditional mold into tiny bits and instead organize her work along multiply intersecting lines: geography, markets, patrons, workshops, and above all the fascinating details of Northern Renaissance artworks as *made* objects. It's an exciting, refreshing approach to familiar works (and sometimes not so familiar -- her emphasis on carved retables is welcome), and I really enjoyed it.

This strategy is not entirely cost-free: for Nash, art history rarely looks like intellectual history, and she does not convey a sense of tradition in style or iconography. At its most extreme, Nash's treatment calls to mind the old quip about the Annales school of social historians -- who, it was said, retold the story of the French revolution in pounds of candle wax. But on the whole it's a trade well worth making, and I heartily recommend Nash's book as a corrective and counterbalance to all the old graybeards who have trodden this ground in the past.
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