Differences Between Northern Renaissance and Italian Renaissance Painting

The Northern Renaissance occurred in the whole Europe outside Italy. Italy is characterized by the rich people who could afford buying arts, but this was not the case in Northern Europe. In both places, the revolution of art occurred individually, but also consecutively. This means that the art in Italy and Northern Europe during this period was influenced by the adoption of several factors, which determined the characteristics of works of art.

Thesis Statement

A review of art characteristics of Italy and Northern Europe reveals two things; Renaissance in the North led to the adoption of gothic art, which held on for a long time, but the art work in Italy was more dynamic, especially after the sixteenth century. Art was also affected by climatic and religious factors.

· The use of oil during painting is one of the differences of art in Italy and Northern Europe. For example, the portrait of Giovanni Arnolfini and His Wife was drawn using oil paints to bring out more effect.

· In Northern Europe, more emphasis was put on illuminated manuscripts, furnishings, and manuscripts; but in Italy, the emphasis was on paintings and furnishings. For example, most works produced by Jan Van Eyke consisted of illuminated manuscripts used in his books.

· Religion was used as the basis of art in Northern Europe; but in Italy, the social change is used. A good example of this can be seen through the more descent and humanistic art work in Italy; while in Europe, art work was more secular. Most of the marble sculptures produced in Italy were based on religious stories and were placed in religious dwellings, such as churches.

· Color was of immense importance in Europe, but in Italy, a form was given more emphasis. This can be seen through the more composed and proportional work of Italian art, as compared to the most detailed work of the North. A typical example is the portrait of Giovanni Arnolfini and His Wife . Colors are used to show the velvet dress and rosary beads in her hands. It is even possible to tell the facial features. However, Antonio Pollaiuolo’s battle of naked men is not multicolored.


· The climate in the North Europe is not conducive for paintings done on wood, but in Italy, marble structures were more common because the climate would enable them to dry faster. For instance, in Italy, one can see marble sculptures, such as the sculpture of battle of naked men.

· One could say that in the art of the North, there is more emphasis placed on detail with the inclusion of aspects and items, as far as the eye can see. A good example of this is the portrait of the garden of earthly delights. Here, one can clearly see the landscape of the land, trees, and the general outlook of the land. It is possible to divide the land into a fore ground, middle ground, and background, unlike many Italian art works.

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· The artists in Italy did not put any effort into producing the effect, while in Northern Europe, detail was of immense importance. A good example is the portrait of the virgin and child, where one can easily tell the facial expression using the eyes and mouth, even small details like the appearance of the nails, clothes, and ornaments on both the virgin and child.

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