Comparing the 15th-Century Art of Flanders, France, Germany & Spain

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  • 0:01 Europe in the 15th Century
  • 0:35 Art of Flanders
  • 1:25 Art of Germany
  • 2:05 French Art
  • 2:45 Spanish Art
  • 3:25 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Christopher Muscato

Chris has a master's degree in history and teaches at the University of Northern Colorado.

In this lesson, you will compare the very different styles of 15th-century art found across Europe and discover the reasons for these differences. Then, test your understanding with a brief quiz.

Europe in the 15th Century

Welcome back to this week's episode of 'Know Your Art!', the only game show that compares artistic styles and has no prizes! Alright, contestant, you know how it works. Behind each curtain is a style of art. You'll get to hear a little bit about each style, but pay attention, because at the end, you get to choose the art that called to you the most!

This week, contestant, we are looking at European art of the 15th century. But wait - there's a twist - none of today's art comes from the famed Italian Renaissance! Ooooooooh. That's right, there was other art in Europe during this time, and today you are going to get a chance to Know! That! Art!

Art of Flanders

Alright, contestant, behind curtain number one is your first style of art. Here all the way from Flanders, modern-day Belgium, this style will bring out your inner neat-freak. Flemish art is all about detail, just look at the intricacies of Rogier van der Weyden's Descent from the Cross!

descent from the cross

Hope oil isn't a problem for you, because Flemish painters relied on oil paints to create this level of detail. But if you like your art deep, Flemish painting always has something to offer. These religious paintings are full of symbolism, hidden in daily objects to encourage personal reflection on the Gospels. But don't worry, this art has a sense of fashion, too! You can thank the lucrative cloth trade for bringing so much wealth to Flanders and sponsoring the rise of art in the 15th century.

Art of Germany

For the avid reader, I think curtain number two may have some nice surprises! This is the art of Germany. German art in the 15th century is focused around its major technological innovation - the movable type printing press. That's right; if you like your art printed, German art might just be for you! The movable type makes printing more affordable, so you won't break the bank on this style.

crosshatching example

German printmakers, like Martin Schongauer, developed new styles of making prints, including the use of crisscrossed lines to show depth called cross-hatching, as well as the engraving method that allowed for more details. German prints may be producible on a large scale, but it might be the only style for you.

French Art

But wait - there's more! Your next art style is positively medieval but with a modern, 15th-century touch. That's right; it's the art of France. Looking for art with a dangerous side? France is going through the Hundred Years' War, so it's been too busy fighting to create new styles of art. Like Germany, this art is mostly focused around books, but there's no printing press here.

french art example

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