Some of the greatest works of the Northern Renaissance have gone on display at The Queen’s Gallery, Buckingham Palace. Including works by Albrecht Dürer, Lucas Cranach the Elder, François Clouet and Hans Holbein the Younger, The Northern Renaissance: Dürer to Holbein brings together more than 130 paintings, drawings, prints, manuscripts, sculpture, tapestries and armour.
The period was dominated by the intense rivalry between the Habsburg Holy Roman Emperor, the kings of France and Henry VIII of England, whose political ambitions were mirrored by fierce competition to attract the best artists to their court. While monarchs vied for territorial power, reformers questioned the central tenets of Christian faith, scholars sought greater understanding of their world, and, for the first time, ideas were circulated in printed form. Meanwhile, artists responded to the changes around them, producing works of ingenuity, beauty and superb technical skill.
Twenty seven works by Holbein go on display, including a portrait of the German merchant Hans of Antwerp, which has been conserved for the exhibition. Conservation has revealed details in the painting for the first time in 400 years. Other highlights include two 16th-century tapestries, each measuring 4 x 8m, which were once the property of Cardinal Wolsey; a spectacular suit of armour, almost 2m tall and 1m around the waist, which belonged to the Duke of Brunswick; and an exquisite brush drawing of a greyhound by Dürer, the only surviving study for the engraving St Eustace. Dürer, the most important printmaker of the period, is regarded as one of the most influential artists ever to have lived.