Workshop - Changing Perceptions of German Art (2014)

National Gallery, London, 20 March 2014

The National Gallery, London, hosted a workshop on Changing Perceptions of German Art on 20 March 2014, held in conjunction with the National Gallery exhibition Strange Beauty, co-curated by Dr Jeanne Nuechterlein (University of York) and Dr Susan Foister  (Deputy-Director and Curator of Early Netherlandish, German and British Painting, National Gallery).

Strange Beauty highlighted the distinctive characteristics of German Renaissance art and the dramatic changes in how it was perceived, especially in the context of the National Gallery collection. During the sixteenth century the paintings, drawings and prints of artists such as Holbein, Dürer, Altdorfer, Cranach and Grünewald were valued for qualities such as expression and inventiveness. However, at the time that the National Gallery was founded in 1824, artistic value was typically judged according to the conventions of Italian, Dutch and Flemish paintings of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, and Victorian audiences found German Renaissance art difficult to appreciate. It was primarily in the twentieth century, when wider European attitudes towards art began to shift, that German art awakened new interest.

The workshop began with three papers and discussion from scholars connected to the National Gallery and investigating its collection history:
Dr Susan Foister on the varied histories of Cranach paintings in the National Gallery collection;
Nicola Sinclair (CDA University of York/ National Gallery) on the acquisition and dispersal of the Krüger Collection;
Dr Susanna Avery-Quash (Senior Research Curator (History of Collecting), National Gallery) on the reception of early Italian art at the National Gallery during the nineteenth century.

These papers were followed by a Group Discussion led by Dr Matthew Potter (Northumbria University), Professor Liz Prettejohn (University of York) and Dr Christian Weikop (The University of Edinburgh).

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