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.
One of the highlights of West Building is a gallery devoted to altarpieces and devotional works. It showcases the Museum’s rich holdings of altarpieces from the 16th through 18th centuries, including works by Italian masters Lanino, Lodovico Carracci, Domenichino, and Stanzione that are installed alongside paintings by the great Flemish masters Rubens and Jordaens and the Sevillian artist Esteban Márquez de Velasco.
Owing to the underappreciation of baroque art when the European collection was being assembled in the late 1950s, the Museum possesses a particularly strong collection of 17th-century pictures, including outstanding works by Bernardo Strozzi and Guido Reni, whose Madonna and Child is one of the artist’s masterpieces. The Italian collection finishes strongly with an outstanding group of 18th-century paintings that includes masterpieces by Batoni, Canaletto, Bellotto, and Ubaldo Gandolfi that would be the envy of any museum in the world.