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Changing Perceptions of German Art: a Workshop on Strange Beauty: Masters of the German Renaissance

The Silver Age (Das Silberne Zeitalter) Lucas Cranach the Elder c1516

Thursday 20 March 2014, 4.00PM to 8.00pm

‘Strange Beauty’ at the National Gallery highlights 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 will begin with three papers and discussion from scholars connected to the National Gallery and investigating its collection history. We will then move to a group discussion in front of the works in Strange Beauty, led by specialists in nineteenth- and twentieth-century art, who will question how these works might have looked to different viewers of the past two centuries.  We look forward to a lively interplay of conversation among all participants throughout the workshop.

Workshop Programme

4:00: Tea

4:30-6:00: Papers and discussion:

Susan Foister (National Gallery) on the varied histories of Cranach paintings in the National Gallery collection

Nicola Sinclair (University of York) on the acquisition and dispersal of the Krüger Collection

Susanna Avery-Quash (National Gallery) on the reception of early Italian art at the National Gallery during the nineteenth century

6:15-8:00: Group discussion in Strange Beauty

Led by Matthew Potter (Northumbria University), Liz Prettejohn (University of York) and Christian Weikop (Edinburgh University)


Attendance is free, but as numbers are strictly limited, please email if you would like to attend.  We invite participants with a diverse range of research interests, and we especially welcome postgraduate students.

Strange Beauty: Masters of the German Renaissance is on show at the National Gallery until 11 May:

Read more about our partnership with The National Gallery.‌

Location: National Gallery, London Sainsbury Wing, conference room 1 (first floor)