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Early Netherlandish Painting at the Crossroads: A Critical Look at Current Methodologies

Early Netherlandish Painting at the Crossroads: A Critical Look at Current Methodologies

Ainsworth, Maryan W., ed., with texts by Maryan W. Ainsworth, Reindert Falkenberg, Molly Faries, Noël Geirnaert, Maximiliaan P. J. Martens, John Michael Montias, Peter Parshall, and Filip Vermeylen
132 pages
57 illustrations
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The nine papers collected in this publication—which comprises the third and latest addition to the symposium volumes inaugurated by The Metropolitan Museum of Art with Attila to Charlemagne—were first presented in conjunction with the Museum's exhibition of Early Netherlandish painting culled from its own holdings, "From Van Eyck to Bruegel," in 1998. The essays, by an international roster of leading specialists, together uncover the circumstances underlying the creation of works of art and shed new light on their meaning, in the context of the growing interdisciplinary activity and burgeoning scholarship in the field. The importance of archival research into the socioeconomic factors that existed in the late fifteenth and early sixteenth centuries is emphasized—especially, the impact of art markets on the production of paintings as well as sculpture. Much new material has surfaced as a result of advances in the technical investigation of works of art, underscoring the premise that the clues to the meaning of a work are often found not only in its method of manufacture but also in the specific audience for which it was intended and in the function that it originally served for that audience. The topics of inquiry addressed here concern the relationship of text and image, archival work, economic/art market developments, and technical examinations. Each of these areas is considered in two parts: The first summarizes the history of the approach thus far, along with suggested guidelines for current research, and the second consists of the respondent's comments on the proposal presented and the charting of unexplored territory for future study. The aim is to stimulate further discussion on existing methodologies in the field, with a view toward developing new directions for subsequent discoveries by scholars of Early Netherlandish painting.

Annunciation Triptych (Merode Altarpiece), Robert Campin  Netherlandish, Oil on oak, South Netherlandish
Robert Campin
ca. 1427–32
The Crucifixion; The Last Judgment, Jan van Eyck  Netherlandish, Oil on canvas, transferred from wood
Jan van Eyck
ca. 1436–38
The Annunciation, Petrus Christus  Netherlandish, Oil on wood
Petrus Christus
ca. 1445
Christ Appearing to His Mother, Juan de Flandes  Netherlandish, Oil on wood
Juan de Flandes
ca. 1496
Virgin and Child, Gerard David  Netherlandish, Oil on wood
Gerard David
Simon Bening
ca. 1520

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Ainsworth, Maryan W., and Metropolitan Museum of Art, eds. 2001. Early Netherlandish Painting at the Crossroads: A Critical Look at Current Methodologies; [Papers Presented at the Symposium on Nov. 7, 1998, New York, NY]. The Metropolitan Museum of Art Symposia 3. New York: Metropolitan Museum of Art.