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Fifteenth-Century Netherlandish Art I: The Age of Jan van Eyck (10 credit points)

Course Times & Enrolment

Wednesdays from 27th September 2023 (Code AA164-103) Wednesdays from
27th September 2023 11:10am - 1:00pm • (10 classes)
G38 Paterson's Land, Holyrood Campus • Tutor: Lesley Fraser MA (Hons) MSc MPhil
This course is now closed for enrolments

Course Summary

The first of two courses exploring the rich artistic talent of the Netherlands in the fifteenth century. During this period, the innovative approaches of painters such as Jan van Eyck, Robert Campin, and Rogier van der Weyden profoundly influenced artistic developments across Western Europe, including Italy. This course will examine the careers of these artists and others of their time, considering their contribution to fifteenth-century European culture.

Course Details

Content of Course

Week 1: Introduction: the establishment of the Netherlands as a leading centre of artistic production in fifteenth-century Europe. Art works include: Melchior Broederlam, The Dijon Altarpiece; Claus Sluter, The Well of Moses

Week 2: The van Eyck brothers, The Ghent Altarpiece

Week 3: Altarpieces: Robert Campin, The Mérode Triptych; Rogier van der Weyden, The Last Judgement; Jan van Eyck, The Madonna of Canon van der Paele

Week 4: Painters and their personalities: Robert Campin, Miscreant and Pilgrim

Week 5: Painters and their personalities: Jan van Eyck, his sense of the past

Week 6: Jan van Eyck, The Rolin Madonna and The Arnolfini Portrait

Week 7: Painters and their personalities: Rogier van der Weyden, piety and pathos

Week 8: Rogier van der Weyden, part II

Week 9: The development of portraiture

Week 10: Material Culture: the cult of chivalry and its effects on material culture; jewellery; clothing, including the significance of the male leg!  

Teaching method(s)

Classroom teaching, PowerPoint presentation, class discussion.

Learning outcomes

By the end of this course, students should be able to:

  • Demonstrate a wide-ranging knowledge of the major Netherlandish artists;

  • Appreciate their role in the changing status of the artist;

  • Understand the role of patronage for art production during this period;

  • Critically engage with the historical circumstances and extant evidence.


Core Readings


Nash, Susie (2008), Northern Renaissance Art. Oxford: Oxford University Press

Campbell, Lorne (1998), The Fifteenth-Century Netherlandish Schools. London: National Gallery Publications


Belozerskaya, Marina (2002), Rethinking the Renaissance: Burgundian Arts Across Europe. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press

Chipps Smith, Jeffrey (2004), The Northern Renaissance. London: Phaidon

Class Handouts

Lists of works consulted, suggestions for further reading and background summaries will be provided.


10 credit courses have one assessment. Normally, the assessment is a 2000 word essay, worth 100% of the total mark, submitted by week 12. To pass, students must achieve a minimum of 40%. There are a small number of exceptions to this model which are identified in the Studying for Credit Guide.

Studying for Credit

If you choose to study for credit you will need to allocate significant time outwith classes for coursework and assessment preparation. Credit points gained from this course can count towards the Certificate of Higher Education.


If you have questions regarding the course or enrolment, please contact COL Reception at Paterson's Land by email or by phone 0131 650 4400.

Student support

If you have a disability, learning difficulty or health condition which may affect your studies, please let us know by ticking the 'specific support needs' box on your course application form. This will allow us to make appropriate adjustments in advance and in accordance with your rights under the Equality Act 2010. For more information please visit the Student Support section of our website.