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A Northern Renaissance: Hugo van der Goes’ “Portinari Altarpiece”

Online (Zoom), August 11, 2021, 15.00-18.00, (Romanian time, English/Romanian – depending on the audience)

The beginning of the 15th century marked the onset of the historical period known today as the Renaissance, with its main focus and achievements in arts and culture in the Italian peninsula.  At the same time, further up north, initiated in the Low Countries a distinct cultural phenomenon – albeit also a “Renaissance” –  that shaped the development of the visual arts in Northern Europe for the next two centuries.

Hugo van der Goes (b. ca 1420-40, d. 1482) was a next-generation painter following Jan van Eyck’s (c. 1390-1441) flourishing career, whose excellence had established a very high reputation of Netherlandish art as far south as the Kingdom of Naples.  In this class, we will learn about the circumstances in which he created the “Portinari Altarpiece,” completed towards 1476, now in the Uffizi Gallery in Florence, Italy.  The triptych, named today after its patron, Italian banker Tommaso Portinari, traveled from Flanders to Florence and stirred the admiration of both the public and Florentine artists, so much so as to be mentioned a hundred years later in Giorgio Vasari’s account of the developments of the fine art in the Peninsula.

We shall also look closely at the composition and analyze the scenes and characters represented in each of the three panels.  This complex artwork offers the context to examine the main characteristics of the formal and narrative principles guiding northern art.

Participants in this class would acquire notions that may enhance their knowledge of 15th-century Netherlandish art and its relationship with Italian Renaissance art.  They are encouraged to actively engage in class discussions and may bring personal laptops, tablets, and/or smartphones with an internet connection in order to individually access online visual resources if needed.  The course relies on visual material presented in PowerPoint, and will be delivered in Romanian and/or English, depending on the audience.”


Ph.D. Daniela Langusi

Departments/units: Summer School 2021; Educational Programs Department; Research Department, Young Researchers Club

Regions: Romania, Fagaras Country

Topic: Art History, Architecture and Urbanism

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