When King Charles V ascended the French throne in the mid-fourteenth century, he and his three brothers vied with one another as to who could commission the most elaborate illuminated manuscript, the most highly bejeweled reliquary, or the most sumptuously painted altarpiece to decorate their private chapels in their numerous palaces and castles in Paris and the provinces. Two hundred and fifty years later that sort of patronage was a distant memory. Events such as the invention of the printing press and the Protestant Reformation had a profound effect on material culture. A feudal economy was transformed into a mercantile economy, inaugurating "modern" social structures that remain with us today. Art changed accordingly: street vendors hawked cheap woodcuts of patron saints on market days; engravings of peasants behaving boorishly were a little more expensive, but suited the middle class; wealthy merchants from the flourishing port city of Antwerp sought paintings of their peasants at work and play. We will study the profound changes that took place in the production of art between 1350 and 1580 in northern Europe within the context of the rise of early modern culture.
Satisfies the Visual and Performing Arts distribution requirement.