This exhibition takes a fresh look at German Renaissance paintings in the National Gallery Collection, providing insights into the way these works were perceived in their time and in the recent past, and how they are seen today.
It will focus on some of the best-known artists of the period, including Hans Holbein the Younger, Albrecht Dürer and Lucas Cranach the Elder. All famous artists in their own time, the exhibition will highlight the ways in which their paintings, drawings and prints were valued in the 16th century for qualities such as expression and inventiveness.
The exhibition will also examine the evolution of the perception of German Renaissance art and the reasons why attitudes towards it were mixed in the 19th and early 20th centuries, especially in the context of the National Gallery Collection. While some viewers admired the artists’ technical mastery and their embodiment of a perceived German national identity, others saw these works of art as excessive or even ugly – particularly when compared to works of the Italian Renaissance.
This exhibition is the result of collaboration between the National Gallery and the University of York.