I am fascinated by the little worlds one glimpses in the backgrounds of Renaissance landscapes and history paintings, a wonderful array of castles, towns, cities, and mountains. There are hundreds of these little wonders lurking in painting after painting; the problem is finding images big enough to show the necessary detail, since some of these wonders are quite small. Above, the Limbourg Brothers, from the Tres Riche Heures.
Van Eyck, the Ghent Altarpiece, 1432
Albrecht Durer, from The Sea Monster.
Herri met de Bles, Landscape with Saint Christopher, 1535 - 1545
Two from Albrecht Altdorfer, The Battle of Alexander at Issus.
Didier Barra, Landscape with Buildings
Vittore Carpacci, Holy Conversation
Herri met de Bles, The Road to Calvary, 1550
Another Durer, St. Michael the Archangel
Three by Pieter Bruegel the Elder, Gloomy Day, The Parable of the Sower, and Hunters in the Snow, all dated 1565.
Lucas Gassel, Panoramic Landscape with Judah and Tamar and Return of the Prodigal Son
Joachim Patinir, Landscape with St. Jerome, c. 1520
And another Patinir, an imaginary Jerusalem from a cycle that depicted all the main episodes in the life of Jesus on one canvas.