The Northern collections are drawn from artists who were active in the Low Countries, France, and Germany, and collectively they exceed the holdings of like-size museums both in quantity and quality. Many important highlights can be discovered within the galleries. The Northern Renaissance features a group of German portraits from the 16th century; a few late Gothic/early Renaissance sculptures, among them a rare Riemenschneider Female Saint; a portable French altarpiece by the Master of the Latour d’Auvergne Triptych; a number of devotional pictures, such as Lucas Cranach the Elder’s Madonna and Child in a Landscape; and the Museum’s most important painting, from an art-historical perspective, Pieter Aertsen’s A Meat Stall with the Holy Family Giving Alms.
The 17th-century Dutch and Flemish collections are larger in number and include works by many of Holland and Flanders’s most important painters. Pictures by Hendrick Ter Brugghen, Jan Steen, Jan Lievens, Jacob van Ruisdael, and Govaert Flinck join examples by Flemish artists such as Jan Brueghel the Elder, Peter Paul Rubens, Gerard Seghers, Anthony van Dyck, Jacob Jordaens, and Frans Snyders.
Typical of nearly all the Northern European works of art, the subject matter in these paintings is portrayed in a largely realistic, straightforward manner that was particularly appreciated by the artists’ patrons.
In West Building works of art are housed in contiguous galleries to tell the fascinating story of Northern European art, from the late Gothic period through the baroque. Elsewhere, in pan-European altarpiece and still-life galleries, and in a European and American portrait gallery, a number of works from the Northern European collections are seen alongside their counterparts from other parts of Europe and America.