Walk Description

This walking seminar, led by a trained art historian, traces the evolution of Northern European painting, beginning with 15th-century works by such artists as Jan Van Eyck, Hans Memling, and Rogier Van der Weyden. We will examine the technical advancements that enabled many northern artists to infuse their works with a striking, almost photographic realism for which they still astound, particularly in the depiction of landscapes and still-life elements.

A tour through the history of Dutch painting

Our walk and conversation will propel us forward through history, tracing the innovations introduced in the 15th century as they deeply impacted later generations of Netherlandish painters. We'll dwell a while in the 16th and 17th centuries, which witnessed the rise of still-life, genre, and landscape paintings as autonomous subjects. Here we'll delve into the work of such artists as the Breughels, Jacques de Gheyn the Elder, Jacob Vosmaer, Jan Weenix, and Aelbert Cuyp.

Finally, our walk of the galleries concludes with masterpieces from the 17th century, the Golden Age of Dutch and Flemish painting, beautifully represented by the Metropolitan's collection. We'll spend some time talking about the political context behind the works and how the schism between the Protestant North and Catholic South and resulting establishment of the independent Dutch Republic in 1648 effected art. We'll look at the flourishing of painting by such artists as Rembrandt and Vermeer in the Protestant areas, and compare them with a similar explosion in the south with such artists as Peter Paul Rubens. Issues of patronage, ranging from the aristocracy to wealthy tradesman and merchants, will be discussed, as well as the international influences that permeated Northern painting throughout the 15th to 17th centuries. Along the way, we will highlight the notable figures whose donations in the late 19th and early 20th centuries contributed to making the Metropolitan's Dutch and Flemish collection one of the greatest in the world.


Duration: 3 hours
Category: Art
Venues: Metropolitan Museum of Art
Incidentals: Museum admission (adults/seniors/students)- US$25/17/12
  • Allisonlevy_thumb

    Allison Levy

    Allison Levy holds a Ph.D. in History of Art from Bryn Mawr College.
    Her specialty is Florentine visual culture and, within that broad
    theme, portraiture and representations of the body. She is the editor of Widowhood and Visual Culture in Early Modern Europe (2003), winner of the Society of Early Modern Women Book Award; and author of Re-membering Masculinity in Early Modern Florence: Widowed Bodies, Mourning and Portraiture (2006). Her third book is a collection of essays on sex and sexuality in Renaissance Italy, published in Italian as Sesso nel Rinascimento (2009) and in English as Sex Acts (2010). She is currently studying the art of misbehavior. Professor Levy has taught at Bryn Mawr, Tulane University, Wheaton College in Massachusetts, and University College London. She worked for Context in Florence for several years before moving to New York.