Classicism in the North, 1500–1620





The example of Italy in the revival of classical values provided an important unifying element in 16th-century northern European culture, offering a model to be emulated or reacted against but impossible to ignore. A supposedly alien import to northern Europe, Italianate culture became assimilated and reinterpreted locally in various ways. In the process, impulses from the south were absorbed, reworked, domesticated, and transformed. This course examines the arts and culture of the territories of the Holy Roman Empire, France, and England in light of these influences. It explores the development of a distinctly northern classical ornamental tradition. Beginning with the urban centers of southern Germany and the Netherlands, where the introduction of Italianate forms was complicated by the Protestant Reformation, the course then considers the very different culture of the northern European courts: France, where the presence of gifted Italian artists produced a highly developed form of classicism; England, where receptivity to the Italian Renaissance was complicated by its religious and political isolation from the rest of Catholic Europe; and finally the great courts of Central Europe, where a truly internationalist spirit in the arts emerged. In each case, common themes linking the decorative arts with the sister arts of poetry, music, rhetoric, and philosophy are examined. 3 credits.