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Lucas CRANACH, the Elder
《The Temptation of St. Anthony》

  • [Prints and Drawings Exhibition]
  • Fantastic Nature: Northern Prints before Rembrandt
  • Saturday 12 March 2011 – Sunday 12 June 2011
  • Venue: Prints and Drawings Gallery, NMWA

    Organized by: National Museum of Western Art

The artists of Italy based their artistic expression on the depiction of the human figure, but the pre-modern painters of Flanders, Germany, and other regions north of the Alps were much more proficient at the faithful depiction of the natural world. And yet, in fact, many of the “natural” scenes depicted by the northern artists were embroidered with a fantastical touch, or indeed, presented images of imaginary worlds. Examples of this trend include 15th and 16th century German paintings of the world inspired by longings for the primitive landscapes of undiscovered worlds. Flemish paintings of “world landscapes” go far beyond human-scale in their compositions that attempt the inclusion of all of the world’s elements.

It is also important to remember that in addition to the painting genre, examples from print media, as seen in this exhibition, provide a much more readily accessible reflection of the imaginative power of the masses in this regard. Northern prints from the pre-modern era abound in iconography such as “Ill-Matched Lovers,” which is both a visualization and a satire of human love and desire, resulting in didactic allegorical images teaching awareness of death and sin. Even in narrative scenes that appear at first glance to be naturalistic in expression, quite often the actions and expressions of the figures shown are somehow caricature-like in form. This small exhibition explores that intersection of “fantasy” and the “natural,” or images where “fantasy” is transformed into the “natural,” in its display of 46 prints from the NMWA collection that present the development of Northern European prints from the end of the 15th century through the pre-Rembrandt period.

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