International Gothic

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A style (or more accurately a medley of various stylistic trends) that affected the art, especially painting, of several European countries between c.1375 and c.1425. At its purest, the style was characterized by aristocratic elegance of pose and gesture combined with a new interest in delicate naturalistic detail. Often it represented a blending of elements from Italy and northern Europe, a situation encouraged by the cultural rivalry of major courts and the growing frequency with which leading artists travelled between them. Lombardy, Franco-Flemish Burgundy, and Bohemia were among the most important centres of the style, major exponents of which included Gentile da Fabriano, Pisanello, and the Limbourg brothers. Elements of the style are present in the work of many of the leading artists of the early Renaissance, such as Fra Angelico, Ghiberti, and Uccello. In the context of English art, the finest work in the style is the celebrated Wilton Diptych (NG, London), named after Wilton House, Wiltshire, where it was in the collection of the earls of Pembroke for more than two centuries. This painting testifies to how genuinely international the International Gothic style was, for although it is a work of extraordinary beauty and must be from the hand of an artist of the highest rank, authorities disagree as to his likely nationality (English, French, Italian, and Bohemian have been proposed). It shows Richard II (reigned 1377–99) being presented to the Virgin and Child by John the Baptist, Edward the Confessor, and Edmund the Martyr (his patron saints), but its purpose and significance are uncertain. It probably dates from late in Richard's reign (heraldic evidence suggests it cannot be earlier than c.1395), and was presumably commissioned by him.

Subjects: Art.

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