Dutch Arts

Dutch Arts

Dutch art, term for the art of the Netherlands within the historical limits, d. H. until 1830 also the art of Belgium (from 1830 Belgian art), and in the 15th and 16th centuries of parts of what is now France (Burgundy, Artois, Picardy).

Since around 1550, a distinction has been made between Dutch (also northern Dutch) and Flemish (also southern Dutch) art, based on the largest province in the Netherlands.

According to the political situation, Dutch art is v. a. of the high Middle Ages largely shaped by the exchange in the Rhine-Maas area and by French influences. In the late 14th and 15th centuries, Dutch painters (seldom sculptors) also worked at the French and Burgundian courts, on the Iberian Peninsula, in Italy and in the Baltic States.


Little has been preserved of Carolingian architecture. The Aachen Palatine Chapel is modeled on the St. Nicholas Chapel in Liège Saint-Jean (around 980) and the Nikolauskapelle (around 1030) in the Carolingian Palatinate of Nijmegen. Important Romanesque churches under Rhenish influence were built in Maastricht (Onze-Lieve-Vrouwekerk [Church of Our Lady], started around 1000, choir, around 1170–80; Sint-Servaaskerk [Servatius], consecrated in 1039, rebuilt in the 11th / 12th centuries; both with mighty western buildings), Utrecht (Sint-Pieter, consecrated 1043), Nivelles (Sainte-Gertrude, consecrated 1046) and Roermond (Onze-Lieve-Vrouwekerk, consecrated 1224); In contrast, the Romanesque parts of Tournai Cathedral (choir consecration 1175) are influenced by Norman.

The Gothic churches essentially followed cathedrals in the north of France, but in some cases developed regional peculiarities (preference for round pillars, dispensing with a triforium, simple buttress). The Onze-Lieve-Vrouwekerk in Bruges (begun in 1210), Sainte-Gudule in Brussels (today Saint-Michel; begun in 1226), the Notre-Dame Cathedral of Tournai (12th century, choir reconstruction 1243–55) are to be emphasized; also the cathedrals of Utrecht (begun in 1254, vaulted with stone after 1381) and Hertogenbosch (2nd half of the 14th and 15th centuries). The Antwerp Cathedral (begun in 1352) is unusually wide as a seven-aisled basilica. In addition to basilicas, hall churches were also built (e.g. Sint-Jacob in The Hague, begun in the late 14th century). In the northern Netherlands, according to ehistorylib, brick was the preferred building material. Brick clad with sandstone was used in Alkmaar, for example (Sint-Laurenskerk, also called Grote Kerk, started in 1470). Wooden flat ceilings or (often painted) wooden vaults were the rule.

Important moated castles are the Gravensteen near Gent (around 1200) and the Muiderslot (started in 1280, rebuilt in the 17th century) near Muiden. The secular building gained great importance early on due to the economic boom in the cities. Fortifications (Delft, Haarlem, Amsterdam) and representative city gates (Ghent, Bruges) have been partially preserved. Characteristic building types of the Middle Ages are the cloth halls, to which a city tower (Belfort) always belonged (Ypres, 1230–60; Bruges, begun around 1250), as well as the town halls (oldest example in Aalst, begun in the 2nd quarter of the 13th century) The most important representative buildings of the cities soon became: Bruges (1375–1420), Brussels (begun in 1402, tower in 1449), Lions (1447–68), Gouda (1450–52), Middelburg (1452–1520). The beguinages are also typical, the most important of which began in Leuven (1305, essentially 16./17. Century) is preserved.

Dutch Arts


Comparatively little has been handed down of medieval sculpture, much was destroyed in the iconoclasm (1566) and later. In addition to building sculpture (especially Maastricht, Onze-Lieve-Vrouwekerk and Sint-Servaaskerk) and significant individual pieces (Our Lady of Dom Rupert, sandstone relief, around 1149–58, Liège, Musée Curtius; Sedes Sapientiae, oak, around 1235–45, Liège, Saint -Jean) are v. a. Works of ivory and goldsmithing preserved. In the late 10th and 11th centuries, an ivory workshop influenced by Metz works worked in Liège (so-called Notkertafel, around 980–1000, Liège, Musée Curtius). In the 12th and 13th centuries, goldsmiths of the highest order were created in the Meuse region (Maasschule; R. von Huy , Godefroid , N. of Verdun ). Also of European importance are the works of C. Sluter, who from 1389 in the service of the Burgundian Duke Philip II, the Bold, created monumental sculptures for the Carthusian monastery of Champmol in Dijon. The most important sculptor in the northern Netherlands in the 15th century was Adriaen van Wesel (* around 1417, † around 1490) who worked in Utrecht. In the 15th and early 16th centuries, v. a. Carving workshops in Antwerp and Brussels, which mainly produced multi-figure altars, often for export to Scandinavia and the Baltic States.

Painting and graphics

In the 11th and 12th centuries, Stavelot and Lüttich were centers of illumination (Stavelot’s Bible, 1097; Floreffe’s Bible, around 1150–70, both London, British Museum), which has close stylistic connections with the goldsmith’s art at the same time. In the 13th century, French influences predominated, before Dutch artists (A. Beauneveu , M. Broederlam , J. de Hesdin, Brothers of Limburg ) began a realistic, narrative book illumination based on French and v. a. at the Burgundian court (Très riches heures for Jean de France, Duke of Berry, around 1411 ff., Chantilly, Musée Condé).

This formed the basis for the development of old Dutch painting, which brought about panel painting in oil and whose technique and image design influenced all of European painting. It all began with R. Campin (Mérode Altar, around 1425, New York, Metropolitan Museum) and J. van Eyck (Ghent Altarpiece), who also worked as an illuminator and made a decisive contribution to the creation of portraiture (portrait of Cardinal Niccolò Albergati, 1438, Vienna, Kunsthistorisches Museum; silver pen drawing [preliminary study] in Dresden, Kupferstichkabinett). Characteristic of J. van Eyck is the differentiated representation of the environment, of objects and people, landscape, light and optical phenomena (reflections), which is not only in the service of closeness to reality and narrative, but also of the religious content (so-called “disguised symbolism”).

van der Weyden’s works (Descent from the Cross, around 1435–40, Madrid, Prado) are determined by an expressive emotional movement, which H. van der Goes (Portinari Altar, around 1475, Florence, Uffizi) muted, but more individualized Figures occurs. Other important painters in this field were H. Memling , D. Bouts and G. David, who drew on the art of J. van Eyck around 1500. In the northern Netherlands (Haarlem) A. van Ouwater (Raising Lazarus, around 1455, Berlin, Gemäldegalerie) and Geertgen worked dead Sint Jans who founded the broad tradition of the Dutch night piece (Nativity, around 1490, London, National Gallery). H. Bosch, who works in Hertogenbosch, drew fantastic representations with complex symbolic content from medieval, humanistically reshaped tradition (Temptations of Saint Anthony, around 1500, Lisbon, Museu Nacional de Arte Antiga).

The stained glass up to the 15th century is only preserved in fragments (e.g. Lier, Sint-Gomaruskerk, last quarter of the 15th century).

Early Dutch printmaking initially consisted of single-sheet woodcuts and block books (including the earliest of the Apocalypse, around 1430; Biblia pauperum), which later resulted in woodcut illustrations of incunabula (including the first illustrated edition of Ovid’s Metamorphoses, Bruges 1484).

Picture knitting

The knitted tapestries were among the most valuable products of medieval art. The city of Arras, which belongs to the Burgundian duchy, has been the most important European center of this art form since the late 14th century (e.g. story of Saints Piatus and Eleutherius, 1402, Tournai, cathedral); in the 15th century weaving mills v. a. in Tournai and Brussels (Trajan and Herkinbald carpets, made after lost paintings by R. van der Weyden , before 1461, Bern, Historical Museum).