Northern Europe: 16th century

Germany and England

Cranach, Dürer, and Holbein—and all other artists after 1517—lived in a world forever changed by the Protestant Reformation.

1500 - 1600

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Decoding art: Dürer’s <em>Melencolia I</em>
Decoding art: Dürer’s Melencolia I

Explore Dürer's masterful "psychological self-portrait" and the hidden meanings of the various objects in it.

The conservator’s eye: a stained glass Adoration of the Magi
The conservator’s eye: a stained glass Adoration of the Magi

Flashed or stained? Discover the historical techniques required to produce—and restore—this vibrant glass painting.

Hans Holbein the Younger
Hans Holbein the Younger

Care to waltz? In Holbein’s time, death was a visible part of life—the dance partner from which no one could hide.

Albrecht Dürer, <em>The Triumphal Arch</em>
Albrecht Dürer, The Triumphal Arch

Emperor Maximilian I employed Dürer to create a Triumphal Arch. It remains one of the largest prints ever produced.

Albrecht Dürer, <em>Adam and Eve</em>
Albrecht Dürer, Adam and Eve

What detail! Dürer studied the human body obsessively and spent four years working on this print. It shows.

Albrecht Dürer, <em>Self-portrait, Study of a Hand and a Pillow</em> (recto); <em>Six Studies of Pillows</em> (verso)
Albrecht Dürer, Self-portrait, Study of a Hand and a Pillow (recto); Six Studies of Pillows (verso)

It takes talent to turn an ordinary object into a work of art, but Dürer’s hand was up to the task.

Albrecht Dürer’s woodcuts and engravings
Albrecht Dürer’s woodcuts and engravings

Have print, will travel. New technologies of mechanical reproduction allowed Dürer to circulate his artistic ideas.

Albrecht Dürer, <em>Self-Portrait</em> (1500)
Albrecht Dürer, Self-Portrait (1500)

Dürer holds nothing back in this frontal portrait. By taking Christ’s pose, he conflates artist and creator.

Albrecht Dürer, <em>The Four Apostles</em>
Albrecht Dürer, The Four Apostles

These monumental figures concentrate their attention on the word of God, which Dürer writes into the painting.

Albrecht Altdorfer, <em>The Battle of Issus</em>
Albrecht Altdorfer, The Battle of Issus

Time collapses in this ambitious painting. As the Greeks battle the Persians, the West fends off the Ottoman East.

Lucas Cranach the Elder, <em>Judith with the Head of Holofernes</em>
Lucas Cranach the Elder, Judith with the Head of Holofernes

Such a gruesome act; such a passive woman. But is she really so refined? With Cranach, meaning is never clear-cut.

Hans Holbein the Younger, <em>Christina of Denmark, Duchess of Milan</em>
Hans Holbein the Younger, Christina of Denmark, Duchess of Milan

What a catch! Henry VIII reportedly kissed this likeness of Christina, but their marriage was not to be.

Selected Contributors | Germany and England