The Italian Renaissance (Art 254)

Professor Michelli, Ext 3098   

Required F Hartt, Italian Renaissance Art, Prentice-Hall, Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey, 4th ed, 1994
Recommended? C Harbison, The Mirror of the Artist, Harry N Abrams Inc, New York, 1995

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The course covers the arts of the Renaissance and Mannerist periods, i.e. from c.1400 to c.1600. This is an extensive period which saw art reach heights of ambition and achievement which have rarely been matched since. Some of these artists are still household names: Michelangelo, Leonardo, Raphael, Titian. These artists not only took existing ideas to their ultimate limit, but also turned from them and introduced important approaches whose effects are still being felt by artists today. It was an age which honored genius and which recognized it, not only by its technical skill and its ability to innovate, but by its ability to exhaust.

But what do later artists do when a concept is exhausted? This was the problem faced by the Mannerist artists, whose names are not so well-known to us. Mannerist art has been unjustly marginalized by scholars until fairly recently. The required book barely scratches the surface of the issues, and the field waits to be redefined - perhaps by us. At any rate, we shall try!

The syllabus divides the course into units. Each unit represents one class and it contains the items you are expected to know (items in parentheses are desirable). Knowing identifications is an assumed part of your study. You cannot talk about the art if you cannot name it, and you cannot talk relevantly about it if you do not know where and when it was made, and who the artist was. Learn each identification ready for the relevant class (usually between four and six per time). As we come to those works, the whole class will be asked to identify them, and if too few people shout out the answers, formal written tests will be set up.

All assignments are included in the syllabus, and there is a complete list at the end together with requirements. You have your choice of five written assignments. The FIRST is required, but you may choose any TWO others. These form the basis for prepared class discussions which are most enjoyable and you are expected to join them. BRING HARTT TO CLASS on the discussion days. The final test is a prepared written paper for submission on Monday, December 16th, 2.30 pm, when you will join a final discussion which will pull the whole course together.

It is expected that you will put in an average of 7 hours per week (added to your class time, this comes to around 10 hours per week: one quarter of a normal working week).

Attendance at Steensland Gallery functions is encouraged. Opening receptions particularly recommended. These are not only pleasant social occasions, but attendance is a courtesy to the artist, some of whom you know.

Attendance at all classes is required. If you have to miss a class, FOR ANY REASON, submit a 500 word summary of the assigned reading(s) for each missed day. These should be word processed and are due on the day you return to class. This way, you will stay on top of the course, even if you have to miss some classes.


The course grading policy is a points system. You start with 0 points out of a possible 500. Each assignment is worth 100 points: 400 points total. Attendance is worth 2.7 points per class. There are 37 classes (not including the first) which are worth a total of 99.9 points. Any class missed is 2.7 points not earned. Late assignments will lose 2.7 points every class-day they are not submitted.

In this way, you build your grade as the term progresses, and you can keep track of the process yourself. There is no substitute for full attendance and doing the work. However, if necessary, opportunities to improve the situation slightly will probably arise: artistic and other relevant events may be attended for extra credit (to be negotiated), and you may rewrite or replace ONE assignment for a possibly better grade (but discuss this with me before you do it).

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