Objects of beauty and prestige with their rich color and fine detail, early Netherlandish oil paintings were among the most widely sought-after works of the Renaissance. Beginning in the early 15th century with Jan van Eyck, and ending in the mid-16th century with the career of Pieter Bruegel the Elder, this magnificently illustrated book explores the achievements of this glorious and innovative period in Netherlandish painting. Susan Frances Jones focuses on over 50 selected works from the National Gallery, London collection to illuminate the roles played by paintings in political, domestic, religious, and secular contexts. Drawing on the Gallery's remarkable research into materials and techniques, she describes how painters' working and creative practices changed and shifted over time. The author also considers whether Northern European artists, like some of their counterparts, laid claim to intellectual as well as artistic sophistication.