Art of the Early Italian Renaissance: A Revolution in Politics and Painting

How did the politics of 14th- to 15th-century Italy influence paintings produced there during that period? As early as the 1300s, the hitherto all-powerful Christian church—the main source of art patronage for years—began to experience competition from emerging secular powers, primarily in the two city states of Siena and Florence. New civic institutions, as well as individual wealthy patrons, were commissioning both public and private art projects, as well as religious church art. Their commissions both contributed to and challenged traditional religious art, altering not only what was painted, but how it was painted. 


This course will consider representative examples from the period such as the wall mural of Ambrogio Lorenzetti, The Effects of Good and Bad Government, in Siena’s city hall. Now categorized as “Late Medieval” or “Pre-Renaissance” art, the new works set the direction for what we call “Early Renaissance” (15th century) and “High Renaissance” (16th century) styles. Other artists we will study include Duccio, Giotto, the Lorenzetti brothers (14th century), Gentile da Fabriano, and Masaccio, concluding with Botticelli and his well-known Birth of Venus (15th century).

Instructor: Rhea Higgins

Date: Tuesdays, October 12, 19, 26

Time: 4:30-6 pm

Location: Butterfield Room, Wasch Center

Cost: $115