HISTART 250-001

Italian Renaissance Art

Angell Hall G127
T Th 1:00pm - 2:30 PM
4 Credit Lecture

Cross-listed with MEMS 250

Italian Renaissance visual art surfaces in the news media and in contemporary culture in spectacular ways. In 2018 a painting attributed to Leonardo da Vinci sold on the art market for an astonishing 450 million dollars. The Piazza San Marco in Venice appears in news footage under water, the city said to be sinking and its fragile lagoon ecosystem threatened by colossal cruise ships. In this course, we take this evidence of the enduring visibility and relevance of Italian Renaissance art as a starting point for an in-depth survey of the period art, 1300-1550. We examine how the works of artists like Giotto, Leonardo, Raphael, and Michelangelo came to be regarded as so important in the history of art and valuable as cultural artifacts. Why, even within the artists' lifetimes, was their art consider to signal the "rebirth" of painting and sculpture and Michelangelo called "the divine"? But we also take these celebrated practitioners off their pedestals and apply a contextual approach to the principal Renaissance monuments — Giotto's Arena Chapel, Botticelli's Birth of Venus, Leonardo's Mona Lisa, Michelangelo's David and Sistine Chapel Ceiling, among other works. Connectivity between Italy and other European and global regions is explored through the circulation of artists, works of art, artistic technologies, and materials. The assignments include a 6-7 page paper and two examinations. Attendance of the lectures and the weekly section is required.

Textbooks/Other Materials: Stephen J. Campbell and Michael W. Cole, Italian Renaissance Art (Thames & Hudson/W. W. Norton: New York, 2017), 2 volumes (Vol. I: 1300-1510, Vol. II: 1490-1600), 2nd edition.

Course Requirements:

  • Paper: "Looking Assignment" based on a work of art in UMMA, 6-7 pages (25%)
  • In-class midterm exam (30%)
  • Take-home final exam (30%)
  • Attendance, section participation, submission of reading outlines (15%)

Intended Audience: Anyone welcome

Class Format: Two 80-minute lectures + one section meeting per week

Estimated Cost of Materials: $50-100

HISTART Concentration Distributions: Europe and the US, Early Modern

Fulfills LSA Humanities Requirements