Unit questions Northern European renaissance

Choose three of the following questions and write a 150-350 word response to each question (points deducted for not meeting word count requirements).  Include the question at the top of your response. Put all responses into one document – in other words don’t submit the assignment multiple times, once for each response.  Remember – you MUST put information in your own words (this includes information from your text book and online sources) or it is considered plagiarism and you will receive a score of 1 on the assignment.


1. What affect did Protestantism have on the Art AND Music of northern Europe? Give at least one specific example for BOTH art and music.

The Protestant Reformation had a significant impact on the art and music of northern Europe, particularly in Germany and the Netherlands. Protestantism’s emphasis on individualism, simplicity, and direct communication with God led to changes in artistic and musical expression.

In art, Protestantism rejected the elaborate decoration and religious iconography of the Catholic Church. Instead, Protestant artists focused on depicting biblical scenes and themes in a clear and simple style that could be easily understood by the common people. One example of this is the work of the Dutch artist Rembrandt, who was influenced by Protestant theology and painted many biblical scenes with a humanizing and individualistic approach. His painting “The Anatomy Lesson of Dr. Nicolaes Tulp” (1632) is a prime example of his style, showing a group of doctors dissecting a corpse in a realistic and unidealized manner.

In music, Protestantism encouraged the use of congregational singing and the development of hymns in the vernacular language, rather than relying solely on Latin choral music. This led to the creation of many new hymns and the development of new musical forms, such as the chorale and the cantata. One example of this is the music of Johann Sebastian Bach, a German composer who was strongly influenced by Lutheran theology. His cantatas, such as “Herz und Mund und Tat und Leben” (Heart and Mouth and Deed and Life), BWV 147, are filled with chorales and hymns that express the central tenets of the Lutheran faith.

Overall, Protestantism had a profound impact on the art and music of northern Europe, leading to new forms and styles that emphasized simplicity, individualism, and direct communication with God.

2. Look on the internet and find some words and phrases that Shakespeare added to the English language.  What are some of these words and phrases? Why would these “made-up” words and phrases from over 500 years ago be in our everyday language today?

William Shakespeare is widely regarded as one of the greatest playwrights and poets in the English language, and his influence on the English language cannot be overstated. He is credited with coining or popularizing many words and phrases that are still used today. Here are some examples:

  1. “All’s well that ends well”
  2. “As dead as a doornail”
  3. “Break the ice”
  4. “Brevity is the soul of wit”
  5. “Good riddance”
  6. “In a pickle”
  7. “Knock, knock! Who’s there?”
  8. “Laughing stock”
  9. “Love is blind”
  10. “Neither rhyme nor reason”
  11. “One fell swoop”
  12. “Star-crossed lovers”
  13. “The game is up”
  14. “The world’s mine oyster”
  15. “To thine own self be true”

These are just a few examples of the many words and phrases that Shakespeare contributed to the English language. His works continue to be studied and performed around the world, and his influence on the English language will continue to be felt for centuries to come.

3. Name at least 3 examples of the heightened realism presented in van Eyck’s Arnolfini portrait?  Name at least 3 examples of symbolism in the picture.

The Arnolfini Portrait by Jan van Eyck is a masterpiece of Northern Renaissance art, known for its impressive realism and intricate symbolism. Here are some examples of both:

Heightened Realism:

  1. The intricate details of the couple’s clothing, including the texture of the fur trim, the individual strands of hair, and the intricate embroidery.
  2. The intricate patterns of the carpet, with each individual knot and thread clearly visible.
  3. The reflection of the couple in the convex mirror on the wall, which is a stunning example of the use of perspective and optical accuracy.


  1. The dog at the couple’s feet, which symbolizes fidelity and loyalty.
  2. The single lit candle in the chandelier, which represents the presence of Christ and the couple’s Christian faith.
  3. The oranges on the windowsill, which were a luxury item at the time and symbolize wealth and prosperity.

These are just a few examples of the many ways in which van Eyck’s Arnolfini Portrait showcases both heightened realism and intricate symbolism.

4. What are some of the various themes and enigmas found in Bosch’s Garden of Earthly Delights? Name at least 3 examples of symbolism used by Bosch. What do you think of Bosch’s work?

Bosch’s Garden of Earthly Delights is a triptych painting that features a plethora of bizarre and fantastical imagery. Some of the themes and enigmas found in the painting include:

  1. The temptation and consequences of sin: The left panel depicts the creation of Adam and Eve, while the center panel shows humans indulging in various sins and pleasures. The right panel depicts the punishment and torture of sinners in Hell.
  2. The ambiguity of pleasure: The central panel is a complex and surreal representation of various pleasures and excesses, including nudity, gluttony, and sexual promiscuity. However, the overall tone of the panel is unsettling and suggests that these pleasures may come at a cost.
  3. The fragility of life: The right panel depicts the torments of Hell, emphasizing the ephemeral nature of human life and the ultimate fate of sinners.

Examples of symbolism used by Bosch in the painting include:

  1. The fruit: In the central panel, various fruits are depicted, including a large strawberry with a face. These fruits symbolize the pleasures of the flesh and the temptation of sin.
  2. The owl: In the central panel, an owl is perched on a tree. This bird symbolizes evil and the darkness of the human soul.
  3. The egg: In the central panel, an egg is depicted, which symbolizes birth and creation.

Bosch’s work is widely regarded as a masterpiece of Renaissance art, renowned for its intricate detail and complex symbolism. The painting continues to intrigue and fascinate viewers centuries after its creation, and its themes and enigmas continue to inspire debate and interpretation.

5. Name at least 3 unique features of Durer’s style?  What did he learn from Italian art?

Albrecht Durer was a German artist who lived during the Renaissance period. Some unique features of his style include:

  1. Attention to detail: Durer was known for his meticulous attention to detail in his artwork, especially in his engravings and woodcuts. His works were characterized by intricate linework and subtle shading, which gave them a high degree of realism.
  2. Humanism: Durer was influenced by the Humanist movement, which placed great emphasis on the importance of individual human beings and their achievements. This is reflected in his portraits, which often depicted his subjects with great realism and detail.
  3. Religious symbolism: Although Durer was influenced by the Humanist movement, he was also deeply religious and often used religious symbolism in his works. This is particularly evident in his engravings, which often depict scenes from the Bible or Christian theology.

Durer was heavily influenced by Italian art, particularly the works of artists such as Leonardo da Vinci and Raphael. From Italian art, he learned the principles of perspective and proportion, which he incorporated into his own works. He also learned the technique of chiaroscuro, which involves the use of light and shadow to create the illusion of depth and volume. Additionally, he adopted the use of oil paints, which were popular among Italian artists at the time, and used them to create highly detailed and realistic portraits.

6. What effect did the printing press have on Renaissance culture?

The invention of the printing press in the mid-15th century had a significant impact on Renaissance culture. Some of the effects of the printing press on Renaissance culture include:

  1. The dissemination of knowledge: The printing press made it possible to produce books and other printed materials more quickly and cheaply than ever before. This meant that knowledge could be disseminated more widely, allowing more people to access books, scientific treatises, and other important works.
  2. The spread of new ideas: The printing press also made it easier for new ideas to spread rapidly throughout Europe. This allowed the ideas of the Renaissance, such as humanism and the importance of the individual, to spread more quickly and widely than they would have otherwise.
  3. The standardization of language: The printing press helped to standardize languages by promoting the use of common spelling and grammar rules. This made it easier for people to communicate with each other across different regions and countries.
  4. The growth of literacy: The availability of printed materials helped to promote literacy, as more people became interested in reading and writing. This led to an increase in the number of schools and educational institutions, as well as an increase in literacy rates among the general population.

Overall, the printing press had a profound effect on Renaissance culture, promoting the dissemination of knowledge, the spread of new ideas, and the growth of literacy. Its impact can still be felt today, as printed materials continue to play a central role in the dissemination of knowledge and ideas.


Unit questions Northern European renaissance