Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Northern European art and the Protestant Reformation

The Protestant reformation had a huge impact on Northern European art. One of the major changes was that religious imagery was no longer the major feature in art. In fact iconoclasm took over as protestant reformers encouraged the removal of religious images. Many churches were no longer commissioning religious art for display because it was believed that religious imagery was distracting and could lead to idolatry. There were some places such as in Zurich where religious art was banned and removed from the church. The Protestants did however still have uses for art in the form of prints which they used as a teaching tool. The Catholic Church in contrast was still embracing religious art.

Printmaking became very popular in northern Europe during the Protestant Reformation. Because printmaking was relatively inexpensive images were mass produced and made available to the general public. Both the Protestant and Catholic churches were able to utilize the print as a way to spread their message. Not only were the Catholics and Protestants using prints to further their cause but prints became a way of spreading propaganda for both sides. Because there were less and less religious paintings and even a decline in paintings of mythology it gave way to a new trend. It became important to paint things as they were at present and genre and landscape painting became popular. Scenes of everyday life even that of the peasants became a very popular theme in the paintings of this time.

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