Mobile menu

Art in the Netherlands

In c.1520 the Venetian nobleman Marcantonio Michiel saw a painting of a banker and his client in Milan by Jan van Eyck which he noted had been painted in 1440. The lost original appears to have been the catalyst for a popular type of painting in the sixte

The Misers ©

During the Renaissance, the Netherlands included present-day Belgium, Luxembourg and part of north-eastern France as well as the Dutch Republic. After Maximilian I married Mary of Burgundy in 1477, this area was ruled by the Habsburg family. Maximilian’s grandson Charles V inherited the Netherlands along with the Holy Roman Empire and Spain, thereby becoming the most powerful ruler in Europe.

The Netherlands flourished as a centre of trade at this time. Bruges was particularly wealthy, its success reflected in the presence of many artists’ workshops, including those of Hans Memling and Jan Provoost. Later, Antwerp’s increasing prominence meant it was the base for painters such as Quinten Massys, Jan Gossaert and Joos van Cleve.

Until the Reformation, devotional paintings were an important part of the market, ranging from large altarpieces such as Jan Mertens’ Calling of Matthew to tiny works intended for personal meditation, such as Gerard David’s Pietà. Portraits were also popular as patrons sought to record their likenesses for posterity. In Marinus van Reymerswaele’s The Misers, portraiture was turned to caricature to mock a maligned occupation and to highlight the perils of the very wealth which allowed art to flourish.

This period saw a huge increase in the demand for tapestries and from about 1480 Brussels became the most important centre of production. Tapestries were useful as moveable furnishings and, because of their large scale and rich materials, demonstrated the wealth and power of their owners.

Hans Memling (c. 1440-1494)

Portrait of a Man

Gerard David (c.1455-1523) and workshop


Attributed to Hugo van der Goes (c. 1440-1482)

Christ on the Cross

Follower of Hugo van der Goes (c. 1440-1482)

Virgin and Child with Saints

Circle of Master of the Legend of the Magdalen (c.1483 – c.1527)

Martyrdom of Saint Ursula

Quinten Massys (1465/6-1530)

Desiderius Erasmus (1466-1536)

Follower of Marinus van Reymerswaele (c. 1490/5-c. 1567)

The Misers

Jean Gossart (c. 1478-1532)

Adam and Eve

Pieter Coeck van Aelst (1502-50)

The Adoration of the Kings

Jan Mertens the Younger

The Calling of St Matthew

Marten van Heemskerck (Heemskerk 1498-Haarlem 1574)

The Four Last Things

Maarten van Heemskerck (Heemskerk 1498-Haarlem 1574)

Jonah Under His Gourd

Joos van Cleve (active 1505/08-1540/41)

Self Portrait

Joos van Cleve (1485/90-1540/1)

Eleanora of Austria, Queen of France

Joos van Cleve (1485/90-1540/1)

Henry VIII

Abraham Bloemaert (1566-1651)

The Marriage of Cupid and Psyche

Circle of Vienna Master of Mary of Burgundy (active c. 1469-c. 1483)

Register of the Guild of St Anne

Pieter Bruegel the Elder (c. 1525-1569)

Massacre of the Innocents

Lucas Horenbout (c. 1490/5-1544)

Henry VIII (1491-1547)

Lucas Horenbout (c. 1490/5-1544)

Henry VIII (1491-1547)

Joris Claes (1580-1628)

Porringer and cover