This course will introduce students to Early Renaissance Italian Art, focusing mainly on Florence and Venice. The course will explore the relationship between history and art history, and the relationship between art objects and important episodes in political, social, and intellectual history. Students will learn a new way to see a work of art as a product and a production of its time. Beginning with the competition for Baptistery doors we will follow the evolution of the discovery of perspective, the rediscovery of classical elements in architecture, painting, and sculpture. While the contribution of artists such as Brunelleschi, Donatello, Masaccio, Ghiberti, Botticelli, Ghirlandaio, Michelangelo will be discussed in detail, the course will also cover lesser-known artists such as Lippi, Pollaiolo, Verrocchio, Piero della Francesca, Paolo Uccello, Luca della Robbia, Beato Angelico, Andrea del Castagno, and Rossellino.
The city of Florence is an open-air museum, therefore class times will alternate between in-class slides lecture and on-site walking tours around Florence, its museums, squares, and churches. Although class discussion is strongly encouraged, this is primarily a lecture course based upon the visual content of works of art presented by way of projected slides and museum visits.