The Magdalen Reading. Rogier van der Weyden. By permission of the National Gallery, London.

Earlier Northern art

This painting by the Flemish artist Rogier Van der Weyden (1400-64) illustrates the way that the earlier Northern schools of art followed the Italian Renaissance masters; his sensitivity of colour and line, and the idealized portrait of Mary of Magdala align him with such artists as Botticelli.

Compare this portrait with the later painting of the same Biblical incident included in the section on the social background

The picture is also evidence of the fact that some women in the period did receive an education, and even managed to become writers. Many of Shakespeare's heroines are both intelligent and educated (Isabella in Measure for Measure, Beatrice in Much Ado, Lady Macbeth. . . )