The Northern European Renaissance and The Italian Renaissance were the significant time periods, and they have also paved the way for several civilizations. However, these time periods have many similarities as well as differences.
The social and cultural similarities between the Northern European Renaissance and The Italian Renaissance are that both of them have chosen the religious figures and stories of Christianity as their basic artistic premise. Religion was given importance in the work in both time periods. Both the eras have indicated the religious events as a mean of showing their love and affection for the religion. Adam Creation by Michelangelo and The Last Super by Leonardo da Vinci are the clear examples of this fact in Italian Renaissance, and Mystic Lamb by Hubert Van Eyck and Jan and Adam and Eve by Albrecht Durer are the dominant examples of the Northern European Renaissance (Snyder). Another major similarity between Italian Renaissance and Northern European Renaissance is that during fifteenth century both had a specific artistic centre. In Italy, Republic of Florence was popular among the artists for inspiration and innovation, whereas in the North, Flanders was appreciated as their artistic hub. Furthermore, another similarity between both of them was the Guild system. At that time Guilds were regarded as the best actions taken by a man for crafting, painting, and making the saddles. However, the training for any specialty was lengthy and involved sequential process and steps.
The social and cultural differences between the Northern European Renaissance and The Italian Renaissance are that the Northern European Renaissance was held on on the architecture and art of Gothic or the Middle Ages and it has longer and tighter grip on the art as compared to the Italy. Further, the north comprised of only a few centers that provided the facility of free trade and commerce as compared to Italy. This can be analyzed from the fact that Italy had various Republics and Duchies that had given rise to a rich class of merchants, who spent sufficient on the art. But, this was not the case with north. Another notable difference between the two periods was the religion. During Italian Renaissance, majority of people were Catholics. Further, the Roman Church was the supporter and protector of the spiritual beliefs. But, due to difference in thought of people such as varying thought of Hieronymus Bosch, some Catholic churches had rebelled and questioned again their religion. Ultimately, a new religion emerged known as Protestant. The new religion has questioned about the insignificant and irrelevant religious rituals associated with the Catholic Church, and started following what they considered right and the accurate way for attaining eternal prosperity.
In the Italian Renaissance, the relationship between the culture and art was to concentrate on humanism. The concentration was not always on the high status being; rather it is on the individual himself. To understand humanity turned out to be the major goal and with the help of knowledge and truth one could spend an honorable life (Diyyani and Benton). Additionally, depiction of the human body also became significant. The artists had taken great time and utilized vast details in their work. The focus was not always beauty but the creation of true and real image of human body. Considering Northern Renaissance, most of the work of art that flourished in the Italian Renaissance was destroyed because of the iconoclasm. Iconoclasm indicates the systematic and methodological destruction of the religious images due to religious nuance or connotations. People were of the view that this is just like worshipping of idols. The monasteries were also destroyed due to this fact Church of England also came into existence because of this fact.
The social and the cultural differences between in the arts of the Italian and Northern European Renaissance are reflected in various ways. Several religious paintings, music and the literary work dominate the Italian Renaissance. For example, The Last Supper is clear indication of this fact (Albury, and Weisz). However, it does not mean that the European Renaissance did not pay attention to the religion, but as a matter of fact they did not consider the things in same way and so they has less work of art available that depicted religious scenes. Furthermore, various techniques were used during the Northern European Renaissance that has shown the creativity of that time. For example, the creativity can be seen on the metal plates and creation of paintings with woodcuts by joining together various panels such as Merode Altarpiece. Moreover, the difference between the arts of the Italian Renaissance and Northern European Renaissance is that the Italian art consisted of scientific views such as anatomy, proportion and the perspectives liked with the renaissance period. The view of the Northern Europeans was to focus on how the art looked like. The Italian art has displayed religion, spiritual figures e.g., Jesus, their beliefs of heaven and has represented ancient legendary beings.
In a nut shell, there are many differences between the two period, but they have introduced many innovative techniques, ideas and even introduced new religions that are still in use and are studied today.
Albury, W. R., and G. M. Weisz. "Depicting the Bread of the Last Supper:Religious Representation in Italian Renaissance Society." Journal of Religion and Society. 11. (2009): 1-17. Print.
Benton, Janetta Rebold, and Robert DiYanni. Arts and Culture: An Introduction to the Humanities. 4th. New Jersey: Pearson Education , 2002. Print.
Snyder, James. Northern Renaissance Art: Painting, Sculpture, the Graphic Arts from 1350 to 1575. New Jersey: Prentice Hall Art, 1985. Print.