Lecture Series - Netherlandish Painting: Beyond Van Eyck

May 04, 2021

If you are unable to attend the live session, do not worry - all those who register will automatically be sent copies of the lecture to view in your own time (from around four hours after it takes place).

When the ‘Flemish Primitives’ were rediscovered in the 19th century, Hans Memling (c. 1435-1494) was even more esteemed than the great ‘founders’ of early Netherlandish painting, Jan van Eyck and Rogier van der Weyden, and was the first artist to have a museum dedicated to him (in St John’s Hospital, Bruges). This was in part due to the many surviving works by him in Bruges, where he was the ‘go to’ painter for the local patriciate, churches and confraternities, and the international merchant community. By contrast, the Ghent painter Hugo van der Goes (c. 1435-82) – arguably a greater artist – is much less well known. Visitors to the Uffizi may be familiar with his great, indeed huge, altarpiece, the Portinari triptych, but less so with his magisterial paintings in Berlin, Edinburgh and Bruges (although that is likely to change, as the first exhibition ever devoted to him is scheduled for Berlin in 2022). Both Memling and Van der Goes built on the new art of the Van Eycks and Rogier van der Weyden, and their work is often seen as the last flowering of that tradition. By contrast, Hieronymus Bosch (c. 1455-1516), working on the ‘periphery’ of the sophisticated Burgundian Netherlands in ‘s-Hertogenbosch, is generally discussed in terms of his late medieval imagery. In fact, Bosch was in many respects also an innovator, working in, but pushing the boundaries of the 15th century Netherlandish tradition. 

Blending New Traditions: Hans Memling - Friday 14 May 2021 at 11am 
Memling settled in Bruges in 1465, having previously – it is thought – worked in Rogier van der Weyden’s workshop in Brussels. His art melded Rogier’s fashionable style and imagery with that of Bruges’ great painter, Van Eyck, hence ensuring him a steady flow of clients. This lecture looks at the diverse works he produced in the span of a 30-year career, including the St Ursula Reliquary Casket and the St John Altarpiece, and his paintings for foreign clients; one of these, the Pagagnotti Triptych, is the first Netherlandish painting to employ Italian renaissance motifs.
 You can download an article "Memling’s Pagagnotti Virgin and Child: Italian Renaissance sculpture reimagined" - by Paula Nuttall here
An Expressive Genius: Hugo van der Goes - Friday 21 May 2021 at 11am 
Like Memling, Van der Goes worked for distinguished local and foreign clients, including Charles the Bold of Burgundy, the Florentine banker Tommaso Portinari, and the Scottish cleric Edward Bonkil. Dazzlingly virtuosic, and monumentally conceived, works such as the Trinity Panels in Edinburgh, the Death of the Virgin in Bruges and the Portinari Triptych testify to his expressive skills and his genius as a designer. At the height of his career Hugo retired from the world to become a lay brother in the Rode Kloster near Brussels, and seems to have suffered bouts of melancholia and depression.
Tradition & Innovation: Hieronymus Bosch - Friday 28 May 2021 at 11am
Already famed in his own lifetime for his distinctive paintings of hell scenes, monsters and his genre-like allegories, Bosch has intrigued viewers for centuries. Yet although his subject matter sets him apart from more mainstream artists, he was far from out of touch with contemporary developments, and in some respects ahead of them, notably in his remarkable treatment of light, his sensitive depictions of nature, and his unconventional painting technique. Looking at works such as the Garden of Earthly Delights, the Temptation of St Anthony and the Prado Adoration of the Magi, we shall explore not only Bosch’s fascinating imagery but also at what makes him one of the greatest early Netherlandish painters.
Paula Nuttall    

Paula Nuttall


Paula Nuttall is an art historian specialising in the Renaissance. She gained her PhD at the Courtauld Institute, on artistic relations between Flanders and Italy, a field in which she is an international authority. She began her lecturing career at the British Institute of Florence. Paula is Course Director of the V&A Medieval and Renaissance Year Course, and an Associate Lecturer at the Courtauld. She also lectures for the Arts Society (formerly NADFAS), the Royal Collection and the Art Fund. In 2013 she co-curated the exhibition Face to Face: Flanders, Florence and Renaissance Painting at the Huntington Art Collection in California and collaborated on the 2020 exhibition Van Eyck: an Optical Revolution at Ghent. Her numerous publications include From Flanders to Florence: the Impact of Netherlandish Painting, 1400-1500 (Yale University Press, 2004) and a chapter on the Northern Renaissance for the Oxford Illustrated History of the Renaissance.

Format for Lecture

Paula will give three one-hour illustrated lectures for £27.50.

You will not need to download any software and the lecture will work in any browser. For the best experience use a desktop or laptop - but it will also work on an iPad or similar tablet.

We hope you enjoy the lectures.


Register for Lectures - 14, 21 & 28 March at 11am


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