Room 60

A revolution in painting

The 15th century was a period of radical change in European painting. In the Low Countries, Jan van Eyck and Rogier van der Weyden exploited the full potential of painting in oil. They used this versatile medium to convey different textures and the varying effects of light and shade, creating convincing illusions of three-dimensional form that captivated artists and patrons all over Europe. Cosimo Tura, who worked for the Este court in Ferrara, was one of the first Italian painters to adopt these technical innovations.

Further south, artists in Tuscany also aspired to produce pictures that looked more true to life, although they tended to paint in the much less flexible medium of egg tempera. Masaccio’s naturalistic figures were inspired by his careful study of ancient and contemporary sculpture, while Antonio and Piero del Pollaiuolo were interested in the movement of the human body. Paolo Uccello was celebrated for his ability to foreshorten objects, figures, and horses. His works, and those of Piero della Francesca, reflect new ideas about linear perspective.

Paintings in this room

Robert Campin: 'A Man'
A Man
Robert Campin
Robert Campin: 'A Woman'
A Woman
Robert Campin
Petrus Christus: 'Edward Grimston'
Edward Grimston
Petrus Christus
On loan from the Royal Museum of Fine Arts Antwerp (KMSKA) © Royal Museum of Fine Arts Antwerp‐Art in Flanders vzw, photo Hugo Maertens
Saint Barbara
Jan van Eyck
Gentile da Fabriano: 'The Quaratesi Madonna'
The Quaratesi Madonna
Gentile da Fabriano
Piero della Francesca: 'Saint Michael'
Saint Michael
Piero della Francesca
Piero della Francesca: 'The Baptism of Christ'
The Baptism of Christ
Piero della Francesca
Piero della Francesca: 'The Nativity'
The Nativity
Piero della Francesca
Antonio del Pollaiuolo: 'The Martyrdom of Saint Sebastian'
The Martyrdom of Saint Sebastian
Antonio del Pollaiuolo and Piero del Pollaiuolo
Rogier van der Weyden: 'The Magdalen Reading'
The Magdalen Reading
Rogier van der Weyden