October 8 - December 3, 2011
Early in the sixteenth century, the ideas and imagery of the Italian Renaissance moved gradually to Northern Europe. By mid-century the fashionable style of Mannerism had arrived.
"The stylish style" emerged in Italy around 1520. Influenced by the naturalism and balance in the work of Leonardo da Vinci, Raphael, and Michelangelo, the Mannerists created styles of elegance and artificiality. They favored symbolic or literary subjects. Artists from Flanders and Holland adopted the style, and adapted it to suit their own preferences and experiences.
This was a turbulent time in the Low Countries. Even as they became great trading nations with enormous wealth and political power, the advent of Protestantism brought conflict, even violence. These changes took place amid the struggle of these countries to resist the imperialism of other powerful nations, the Habsburg Empire and Spain. In Italy, Mannerism was conceived for court and church nobility; in the Netherlands the prints became popular with a broad middle class.
A great printing and publishing industry developed as workshops in Liège, Antwerp, Haarlem, and Amsterdam produced their own distinctive prints. Images of Italian landscapes and ancient ruins were followed by classicizing biblical prints for both Catholic and Protestant viewers.
This exhibition explores the character of Netherlandish Mannerist prints, and their rapid development during an era of great change.