• You can see the town so clearly! I think this is a quality of Northern Renaissance art. - LisaR
  • the hanging pot and the corners, beautiful architecture depicted - faisal sheikh
  • linear perspective used for the staircase - faisal sheikh
  • The architecture is definatelly beutiful and well presented. There is a lot of detail which gives it a very artistic and realistic feel. - ewelina
  • There is no hierarchy of scale used, all figures are very proportionate to each other and their surroundings. - Tara Ragan
  • Characteristic of Northern Renaissance artists to paint the patron of the artwork in the piece as participants with the saints. - GloriaSealy
  • Campion portrayed so many furnishings in the home as was characteristic of Northern Renaissance Flemish artists--gives you an idea of inside a Flemish home. - GloriaSealy
  • I like the Northern Renaissance presentation of triptych--opens up like a story book. - GloriaSealy
  • The table is almost too dimensional and it looks like the tools are going to fall off it. - Shelby Johnson
  • Good use of linear perspective in the ceiling and walls. - Shelby Johnson
  • Symbolism is used several times in this painting. Examples of this would be the lily that represents the Virgin Mary’s purity. Also the flame of the candle, symbolic of God's divinity which has just been extinguished. - melissa d
  • This is where a focal point wis as one can see the walls going towards it. Again shows illustion of space. - ckillin
  • this bench is a good example of linear perspective gone awry - blakely1
  • Detailed elaborate background is indicative of Northern Renaissance. Who is the man in the background? - Monique Stanton
  • Elaborate, detailed background characteristic of Northern Renaissance especially with the architectural details so clear and identifiable - Monique Stanton
  • How does Joseph fit into this whole picture? He seems very distant and removed from the activity in the two other panels. - Monique Stanton
  • Flowers are used again in this painting as in this rose bush. What are roses a symbol of here? - Monique Stanton
  • using linear perspective on the ceiling gives the room & the painting depth & illusion of space. - adria053
  • This definitely looks like orthogonals, but artists of the northern renaissance did not use a mathematical formula for space -- it was more intuitive, more based on what they see, and not a precise formula.
  • Those roses are a symbol of the love of the Virgin Mary.
  • this is a self-portrait of Van Eyck - efeinblatt
  • Add your note here.this robe is red - efeinblatt

The whole Merode Altarpiece

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bellbird1, AskDrScience, sharpe_rj, and 26 other people added this photo to their favorites.

  1. Lisa LeV ages ago | reply

    This painting uses linear perspective as clearly evidenced by the way in which he has constructed the rooms in each tryptych. For instance, if you view the pew bench that Mary is leaning on you can see that the legs and arms of the bench are drawn in perspective and appear to be disappearing to a vanishing point somewhere in the distance behind her head off into space. The same can be said for the bench upon which St. Joseph sits and if you follow the lines in of the stairs and doorframes in the 1st tryptych. The spaces make sence in the paintings in that the viewer dows get a sense that these are rooms that the occupants are in, however, it seems to me that the use of linear perspectiver for the tryptych actually makes everthing seem more confining - almost cluttered if you will. The figures in these paintings in comparison to what we saw in the italion rennaisance appear also have weight but it also brings to mind a sentimentality to the ideals of the medieval period - the bodies beneath the figures are insinuated rather then more clearly defined. It is evident that it isn't an Italian rennaissance painting because the figures here more somber in appearance and not as expressionistic as we have seen in many of the works from the italian rennaissance period.

  2. LisaR ages ago | reply

    There is definitely an illusion of space in this tryptych painting. From the way the clothing is shaped to show the human figure to the use of lighting that travels from each of the figures casting shadows. This painting is very Northern Renaissance all the way down to the background of the town. Another characteristic of the Renaissance period is the use of Linear perspective, this is most easily notice through the way the rooms are shaped. It gives the painting a sense of dimension and depth. I don't think this painting is has focused on the human body as Italian Renaissance. It still does focus on the human body, just not as much. It is more into covering every square inch of a canvas to make it is realistic as possible.

  3. blakely1 ages ago | reply

    At first glance this painting is almost overwheleming, there is so much going on here. Also it looks a littel spooky to me, the rustling papers and the extinguished candle seems as if the holy spirit himself is in the room.The artist treats space in a very interesting manner. It looks as though he is trying to create linear perspective but maybe he dosen't have his facts straight. I can't decide if this is the case or if he is trying to achieve something here by structuring it in this manner. maybe he is trying to put us in gods perspective. What makes me think that he is trying to achieve linear perspective is that you can see orthogonals (or at least diagonal lines) but the space looks stretched as opposed to growing smaller.
    It look like he has the proportions right as far as the human form goes but the positions do not seem completely natural. For example Mary loks a little awkward. You can detect the bodies under the clothes but it is not quite as pronounced as it was in the italian renassiance paintings.
    This painting is telling of the northeren renassiance because of the details. Every subject in this piece is just as important as the focus, you can even see a guard standing outside,by a large wall and littel people beyond him (it' amazing).The textures of this painting are beautiful, you can detect the dull, shimmer of velvet and the glimmer of gold. This was attributed to the medium of paint the northeren renassiance artist used, oil paint. Another very important feature to this painting is the symbolism, it seemes that everything in this piece is representitive of thier religion.
    I think that this artist did not use science or math to create this work but instead used a great deal of observation. Maybe the artist in the northeren renassiance held different things of importance. I feel they concentrated more on details, texture and symbols than linear and proportional correctness.
    Everything in this painting seems to be a symbol. The lilys represent Mary's purity, the candle represents the holy spirit, even the mouse traps represent traping evil. Something I am not sure of however, the importance of the pot hanging in the background, in the middle panel, it must mean something. Any ideas?

  4. IlanaV ages ago | reply

    In Merode Altarpiece, a triptych by Campin there are many typical characteristics of the Northern Renaissance style. Campin treats the human figures by painting them exactly the way they would have looked, and did not idealizing them like in the Italian Renaissance where artists generalized and did not focus on small details, rather they concentrated on the face and cloths. You can see the body under the drapery, and are all in correct proportion.The painting is clear and crisp, which is a typical feature of Northern Renaissance art. The artist treats space by showing equal importance to all aspects of the painting. Campin painted an extremely elaborate landscape that shows a town in the distance. This too, is very typical of much Northern Renaissance painting. There is an illusion of space, does the space make sense due to the illusion of space created by atmospheric perspective. You see linear perspective shown as well.

  5. Tara Ragan ages ago | reply

    The triptych painting has so much detail is could be examined for hours. Cleverly placed throughout the painting are things with very symbolic meanings. For example, the lily on the table is suppose to symbolize Mary’s purity. All of the figures are wearing gowns but their body shape is still fully visible. Mary’s knee sticks out of her gown enough to catch a reflection of light and seemingly give the gown a bit of texture. The artist did not idealize any of the faces. The artist painted them exactly how he thought they should look, naturally all of them very different. An illusion of space is created by the views of the town visible through the windows and on the entire left side of the painting. Not only does the town seem to go for miles but it is shown at different elevations. The architecture in the rooms was very impressive because of the detail around the archways and ceiling. Linear perspective was used to help add depth. It is especially noticeable in the middle room. I think the artist did try to take math and science into consideration but the bench and table in the middle picture could have been a little more even. The table looks like the legs are longer on one side or it is tipping over.

  6. bethrh ages ago | reply

    PLEASE READ
    Wow! Great job everyone!
    Campin is definitely trying to create an illusion of space, and in some spots it looks more or less correct -- BUT -- here's the kicker -- notice I said "more or less" -- the artists of the Northern Renaissance are not using the mathematical formula of linear perspective to create an illusion of space -- their space is more intuitive, based on what they see -- but NOT on a precise mathematical construction of space. So, if you look carefully, you will notice that in some places the space looks "off"! Can anyone point that out?

  7. Shelby Johnson ages ago | reply

    Thispicture really shows so many great qualities of Northern Renaissance art. Even though linear perspective is used some of the areas like where Mary is sitting and the tables is almost too dimensional and it looks things are falling at you. The detailing in the artitechure is fine and Campin didn't leave anything out. Having the painting done as a tritych gives it more of a story look, instead of just being one scene. Light reflections are used alot another qualilty of a Northern Renaissance. It is shown on Joseph's metal tools, Mary's outfit, and in all the shadows, even in the corners. Showing the background with the buildings helps give you the sense of what the area what like and really helps complete the whole picture, especially giving it dimension. I enjoy looking at and studying this picture because the more I do, the more I find going on in it, including symbols like the white towel, the little Holy Spirit, and Mary holding the towel under the Bible.

  8. melissa d ages ago | reply

    The Merode Altarpiece painting by Campin is very realistic looking. There are many obvious differences in this painting that separates it from paintings done in the Italian Renaissance. This Northern Renaissance painting was done with oil paints which gives it a flexible natural look. Using oil paints makes painting easier for the artist because it dries slow and allows for thick textured brushstrokes and thin fine detail as well. Also the painting can be finished in several sessions. The color also appears more vibrant and real when using oil paints. This painting also demonstrates the use of light on reflective surfaces which is also a characteristic of Northern Renaissance art. Everything about this altarpiece is very detailed and the artist gives equal importance to everything in the painting. Paintings of the Italian Renaissance were very generalized and only focused on the main point and not so much anything else. All of the individuals in this painting are painted exactly how they would look at that exact time. Their facial expressions seem more captured whereas in the Italian Renaissance they would seem more idealized. The landscapes and backgrounds in the painting create an illusion of space using atmospheric perspective. The scene seems to go back as far as the eye can see. For example on the left panel where you can see through the open door and in the right panel also when you can see out of the window. A major characteristic of the Northern Renaissance art is the major use of symbolism. Symbolism is used several times in this painting. Examples of this would be the lily that represents the Virgin Mary’s purity. The tiny ghost of Christ with a cross flying in the widow in the center panel indicates that the primary subject is the Incarnation. The mousetrap displayed on the window ledge is an allusion to the cross the unborn Christ carries in the center panel. According to Saint Augustine the cross was the mousetrap with which God caught the Devil. The flame of the candle is symbolic of God's divinity which has just been extinguished. It is a further reference to the Incarnation (the moment when God became man). The donor and his wife are shown in the left panel looking through an open door. The patron’s name means "the angel brings". His coat of arms appears in the left window of the center panel. The bodies are not easily distinguishable underneath all of the layers of drapery however the proportions look realistic. Symbolism and religious meaning is apparently very important in everyday life and art in the Northern Renaissance. Everything to these people has some sort of hidden meaning.

  9. ckillin ages ago | reply

    This piece of really says Northern Renaissance. First, is the symbolism in this piece, with the lily on the table that is a religious symbol for purity. Symbolism was a defining part of northern Renaissance. Second, is light on reflective surfaces, in the gold pots in the middle panel. Reflective light is another point that shows one that this is a Northern Renaissance piece. Third, is there is no idealizing in Northern Renaissance art, we can see this throughout the details throughout the figures and surrounding areas in the art.
    Linear perspective is seen in this piece. One can see this in the all the panels as there is an illusion of space, and one can see a focal point I the middle of the middle panel. The room is going back in to space.
    The human figures don’t show any form under the drapery. It shows the basic form, but no more.

  10. LisaR ages ago | reply

    Oh yes, I did notice the spacing being a little off. Particularly in the center painting. When I first looked the oval shaped table appeared cirular and looked like it was tipping over. Also the painting to the right looks a little of where the table is there in front of the carpenter.

  11. Erin_Lambert ages ago | reply

    I really liked the reality in this painting. I feel that the artist toke so much time and attention to detail. I do see the space being off in the center of the painting. Heirarchy of scale is also not used very well in the painting. I see the linear perspective in the ceiling and steps in this painting. I feel as though everything from the lighting to the outside clouds flows and has a sense of follow through.

  12. adria053 ages ago | reply

    To start off this painting is a triptych which means it "consists of 3 separate panels connected with hinges". The artist uses a lot of linear perspective to give the painting depth and the illusion of space. He uses it in the architecture as well as the furniture (ie. Mary's bench). Also, he uses modeling of light and dark, especially on the drapery of the figures clothing, to incinuate their bodies. But the artist's main concern is not making the figures appear more realistic but supporting them with more realistic and very detailed backgrounds. This in turn make the figures seem very real. Also, the use of hidden symbols that support the story the painting is trying to tell. Like, in the center panel, the gust of wind being shown coming through the window trailing a small ghost-like figure of Christ carrying a cross, representing the Holy Spirit, as well as the candle being blown out and the book pages turning emphasizing the wind.
    The artists fine attention to detail is what makes this triptych seem so realistic that it looks like it could POP off the page.

  13. vguerrazzi ages ago | reply

    The altarpiece's initial setting seems like a middle class house. The symbolism through all of the accesories and furniture also function as religious symboles letting the veiwer know this is more than an average household...it is divine. Mary's expression is that she has not yet realized that the angel Gabriel has entered the room to see her. The bench that she leans on is supposed to represents Mary's mission. The piece as a whole is in a perspective that is too dimensional that it looks very slanted. Joseph's tools look like they are going to slide off the table. Joseph is depicted as a carpenter in his workshop. The moustrap in Joseph's scene represents Christ in the world as a trap for the devil. The donors on the left are kneeling and seem to be spectators to the holy annunciation. There are many symbols throughout the piece the represent Mary's modesty, and purity, like the flowers on the donors side, the lily in the middle piece, the white towel and the copper basin. The extinquised candle represents the Incarnation of Christ. The medium is oil paint which brings a great depth to the whole painting.

  14. melissa d ages ago | reply

    I think that the table in the middle that Mary is sitting next to is sort of off. Now that it has been mentioned I do notice how the painting is not exact and it has its defects. The lines are not all in perspective on objects like tables, doors, and benches. I don't think any of this would have caught my eye however if it wasn't brought to my attention.

  15. JamieRyanPhoto ages ago | reply

    i'm not sure if this was mentioned, but above the angel, there is a naked Christ Child bearing the Cross.

  16. Schrunchy ages ago | reply

    i saw that no one has written anything about what is Joseph doing in this painting. Since they started to examine this painting, there was a question why is Joseph so amused with making mousetraps in his room. As saint Augustine said, God was supposed to come on Earth in shape of a man, so he could capture Satan - God's cross was a mousetrap for the Devil.
    And, when a candle burns in the full daylight (like a sanctuary candle in church), it symbolizes ever present light of God. In this case, candle was just extinguished, which may allude that God became a man, that "the word turned in to the body" within Christ.
    Mousetrap and a extinguished candle are very rare symbols (we can find Joseph with a mousetrap in just one, maybe two paintings, but this kind of candle, we can see only in this one), so it is quit obvious that Robert Campin is the first one to introduce these symbols in art.

  17. simona_sitarova ages ago | reply

    Notice that in the painting on the right the lines of perspective are completely off. The lines of the table, the bench and the ceiling... neither correspond.

  18. Tania Bortolotti 108 months ago | reply

    it's a great way to teach so many things!!!

    i got amazed!!!

  19. jesuisvalerie 94 months ago | reply

    I loved all the notes everyone added to this painting. It really helped me study for my art history exam :)

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