The Italian Renaissance

Art 254

Syllabus and Review List

Note: * beside an item means that it is important and should be learned if you can find it, but it is not in the set book. Note also that many works have several names. Check out the books on reserve in the library as well as the set book before you decide you cannot find anything.

Courses Introduction


  • Classicism: art and ideas

    SECTION I: Florence


    1. Competition and North Doors
      Read: 177-81
      • Ghiberti, Sacrifice of Isaac (competition panel), 1401-3
      • Donatello, Sacrifice of Isaac (competition panel), 1401-3
      • Ghiberti, North doors, Baptistery, Florence, 1403-24, for Woolworkers guild
      Seminar: If the competition for the North Doors set the terms (aims, ideals, mood) for the art which followed, what were those terms?

    2. Orsanmichele (Donatello, Nanni, Ghiberti)
      Read: 183-86
      • Ghiberti, St John the Baptist, Orsanmichele, 1405-17, for Woolworkers' guild
      • Donatello, St George, Orsanmichele, c.1410-15, for Armorers' guild
      • Donatello, St Mark, Orsanmichele, 1411-13, for Linenworkers' guild
      • Nanni di Banco, Four Martyrs, Orsanmichele, c.1416-16, for Masons and Carpenters
      • Ghiberti, St Matthew, Orsanmichele, 1419-22, for Bankers' guild
      Seminar: Paoletti and Radke accept new dates for these works. Consider the more traditional dates offered by Hartt. How do the different chronologies affect your interpretation of the artists' intentions?

    3. Frescoes (Giotteschi, Monaco), altarpieces (Monaco, Fabriano); Masaccio
      Read: 191-99, 200-05
      • Gentile da Fabriano, Adoration of the Magi (Strozzi Altarpiece), Strozzi chapel, Sta Trinita, Florence, 1423, for Palla Strozzi
      • Masaccio, Madonna and Child (central panel of Pisa Polyptych), 1426, for Carmelite chapel in Sta Maria del Carmine, Pisa
      • Masaccio, The Tribute Money, Brancacci Chapel, Sta Maria del Carmine, Florence, c.1424-27, for Pietro Brancacci
      • Masaccio, Trinity Fresco, Sta Maria Novella, Florence, c.1426-27, for Lenzi family
      Seminar: (Check out Giotto. Find Masaccio's S Giovenale Madonna, 1422, in Hartt, and discuss this too.) Do the artistic tendencies in fresco parallel Paoletti's and Radke's concept of sculptural development, or Hartt's concept? How does an awareness of Giotto and of the S Giovenale Madonna affect your understanding of Masaccio?

    4. CLASS DISCUSSION: What do Paoletti and Radke see as the primary stimulus of Renaissance art? What do they achieve by ignoring Donatello's Campanele figures and Masaccio's early work? Does this affect their case at all? How does it affect your understanding of the intentions of Renaissance artists?

    5. Gates of Paradise (Ghiberti); S Marco and Strozzi Altarpieces (Fra Angelico)
      Read: 216-18, 206-13, 223-24
      • Ghiberti, The Gates of Paradise (East doors), Baptistery, Florence, 1425-52, for Woolworkers guild
      • Fra Angelico, San Marco Altarpiece (sacra conversazione), for High Altar, San Marco, Florence, 1440
      • *Fra Angelico, Deposition (Strozzi Altarpiece), Strozzi chapel, Sta Trinita, Florence, 1434, for Palla Strozzi to complement Gentile da Fabriano's (unit 3)
      Seminar: (Check out the work of Donatello and Ghiberti at Siena, too.) What is happening to the intentions of the artists at this period? Is it valid to see these works in terms of competition between patrons?

    6. Decoration of Medici Palace (Uccello, Gozzoli, Pollaiulo)
      Read: 225-29
      • Benozzo Gozzoli, Journey of the Magi, Medici chapel, Medici palace, Florence, c.1459, for Piero de' Medici
      • Paolo Uccello, The Battle of San Romano, 1430s, one of three for a bedroom in the Medici Palace
      • Antonio del Pollaiuolo, Hercules and Anteus, early 1470s, statuette for Medici family
      Seminar: Does the specifically secular nature of these commissions seem to affect the artists' approaches? What kinds of ideas do these works address?

    7. Mid century painting (Lippi, Veneziano, Castagno)
      Read: 232-35
      • Fra Filippo Lippi, Tarquinia Madonna, 1437, for Giovanni Vitelleschi
      • Fra Filippo Lippi, Coronation of the Virgin, 1447, for Francesco Maringhi for main altar, Sant'Ambrogio, Florence
      • Domenicho Veneziano, St Lucy Altarpiece, c.1445-47, for main altar of Sta Lucia de Manoli, Florence
      Seminar: (Find the Virgin of Vladimir icon (c.1150) and be sure to take it into consideration.) Analyze these works' construction and iconography, and explain how these expand the apparent subject matter of each image.

    8. CLASS DISCUSSION: Does it enrich or impoverish the field to see these works in terms of the intentions of the patrons rather than the artists? What is gained and what is lost by an exclusive attention to this aspect of the Renaissance? Why do you suppose the more confrontational and idiosyncratic works have been left out of account in our text?

      Courses Introduction

      PART II - Dispersal


    9. Donatello in Florence and Padua
      Read: 229-32, 265-68
      • Donatello, Bronze David, 1440s?, for courtyard in Medici palace
      • Donatello, High Altar (the Santo altar), San Antonio, Padua, 1446-53
      • Donatello, Gattamelata, Santo Piazza, Padua, 1447-53, for wife and son
      Seminar: What is the mood of Donatello's work in bronze, and how does he express his classicism?

    10. Mantegna in Padua, Verona and Mantua
      Read: 268-69, 289-93
      • Mantegna, St James being led to his execution, Ovetari chapel, church of the Eremitani, Padua, c.1455-56, for Empress Ovetari for husband's burial chapel
      • Mantegna, San Zeno Altarpiece, high altar San Zeno, Verona, 1456-69
      • Mantegna, Camera Picta ceiling, ducal palace, Mantua, 1465-75, for Ludovico Gonzaga, duke of Mantua
      Seminar: (Find the Cristo Scorto and discuss it too.) How many different kinds of illusion does Mantegna create, and how does he do it? What does he seem to be trying to do to/with his audience?

    11. Altarpieces in Venice, painting, scuole
      Read: 270-80
      • Antonello da Messina, Enthroned Madonna and child with saints (San Cassiano altarpiece), San Cassiano, Venice, 1475-76, for Pietro Bon
      • Giovanni Bellini, San Giobbe Altarpiece, San Giobbe, Venice, by 1478, for Confraternity of St Job
      • Antonello da Messina, St Jerome in his study, by 1475?
      • Giovanni Bellini, Madonna Lochis, 1470s (a devotional image)
      Seminar: How do these Venetian paintings differ from the work we have seen so far? How do you respond to the new features? Be sure to find Giovanni Bellini's Milan Pietà and discuss it too.

    12. Donatello returns to Florence
      Read: 229-32
      • Donatello, Judith and Holofernes, late 1450s? for a garden in the Medici palace, Florence (later transferred to Loggia della Signoria)
      • Donatello, North and South pulpits, San Lorenzo, Florence, c.1460-66, for Cosimo de' Medici
      • *Donatello, Penitent Magdalene, Baptistery, Florence, c.1453?
      Seminar: The Penitent Magdalen is not included by Paoletti and Radke. How does this affect your impression of Donatello's late work? Contrast these works with his earlier ones, and suggest why scholars tend to ignore them.


    13. Leonardo and Botticelli
      Read: 295-7
      • *Botticelli, Adoration of the Magi (Uffizi Adoration), Sta Maria Novella, Florence, early 1470s?, for merchant Guasparre Dal Lama (hostile to Medici)
      • Leonardo, Adoration of the Magi, left incomplete 1482, for San Donato a Scopeto, Florence
      • Botticelli, Adoration of the Magi (Washington Adoration), early 1480s
      Seminar: Contrast Leonardo and Botticelli. Which artist is redefining the way art is done and how is he doing it? Which of these works seems most "spiritual" to you, and why?

    14. Antiquarianism; Botticelli
      Read: 300, 301-2
      • Botticelli, Primavera, for Pierfrancesco de' Medici?, c.1482
      • *Botticelli, The Birth of Venus, for Pierfrancesco de' Medici?, c.1484-86
      Seminar: What are these works about? Are they "easy"?


    15. Rome, Sistine Chapel walls
      Read: 305-08
      • Botticelli, Punishment of Corah, Sistine chapel wall, 1481-2, for Sixtus IV
      • Perugino, Christ giving the keys to Peter, Sistine chapel wall, 1481-2
      Seminar: Do these works make a satisfactory "set" (say why/not)? Compare them with other works by the same artists. Are they typical? How much control do you think the patron had with respect to style?

    16. Milan, Leonardo
      Read: 314-23
      • Leonardo, Last Supper, refectory of Sta Maria della Gracie, Milan, 1495-7/8, for Ludovico Sforza
      • Leonardo, The Madonna of the Rocks, for the Chapel of the Immaculate Conception, San Francesco Grande, Milan, 1483-1508
      • Leonardo, study for the Sforza monument, c.1488
      Seminar: Highlight Leonardo's ARTISTIC experiments. What do they imply about his attitude to contemporary art?

      Courses Introduction


    17. Michelangelo
      Read: 326-30
      • *Michelangelo, Pietà, for burial chapel of Cardinal Jean de Bihlères, St Peter's, Rome, 1498/9-1500
      • Michelangelo, David, for buttress pinnacle, Florence cathedral, 1501-4
      Seminar: Compare Michelangelo's sculpture with that of his predecessors and contemporaries. Does he seem to be critiqueing it? Be sure to find the St Peter's Pietà and discuss it too.

    18. Portraits
      Read: 330-32
      • Piero della Francesca, Battista Sforza and Federico da Montefeltro, c.1472
      • Leonardo, Mona Lisa, c.1503
      • Raphael, Maddalena Strozzi Doni, c.1506
      Seminar: Look for portraits by Botticelli, too. What makes Leonardo's Mona Lisa different from any earlier portrait? What does he do to the concept of art with this portrait?

    19. Michelangelo, the Julius Tomb and Sistine Ceiling
      Read: 342-47
      • Michelangelo, Sistine Chapel ceiling, Vatican, Rome, 1508-12, for Julius II
      • Be able to list its narrative scenes, to classify the large figures who appear between the spandrels, to classify the groups of figures who appear in the spandrels, and to give the term for the naked youths on the parapet.
      Seminar: Compare and contrast Michelangelo's Sistine ceiling and Mantegna's Camera Picta ceiling (unit 10), distinguishing the strengths of each artist. Say which strengths are probably most prized by posterity and why.

    20. DISCUSSION: differing interpretations of the ceiling (handout)

    21. Vatican Stanze
      Read: 347-52
      • Raphael, Disputà, Stanza della Segnatura, Vatican, Rome, 1510-11, for Julius II
      • Raphael, School of Athens, Stanza della Segnatura, Vatican, Rome, 1510-11, for Julius II
      Seminar: Compare the Stanze della Segnatura with the Sistine Chapel walls (on which his teacher, Perugino, worked, unit 15); does Raphael seem to be critiqueing them?

    22. Giorgione, Early Titian
      Read: 355-60
      • Giovanni Bellini, Enthroned Madonna and Child with saints (San Zaccaria Altarpiece), San Zaccaria, Venice, 1505
      • Giorgione, Enthroned Madonna and Child with saints (Castelfranco Altarpiece), Castelfranco cathedral, c.1504? for Tuzio Costanzo
      • Giorgione, La Tempestà, c.1509, possibly for Gabriele Vendramin, Venice
      • Giorgione and Titian, Sleeping Venus (Dresden Venus), c.1510, possibly for Girolamo Marcello, Venice
      • Giorgione or Titian, Pastoral Concert (Fête Champêtre), c.1509-10
      • Titian, Sacred and Profane Love, c.1514 for Niccolò Aurelio, Venice
      Seminar: Compare and contrast these works with central Italian examples of the same type (e.g. altarpieces by Masaccio, Fra Angelico; Venuses by Botticelli). What new issue are the Venetians working on? How are they doing this, and do they take it seriously?

    23. More Titian
      Read: 360-61
      • Titian, Assumption of the Virgin, main altar Sta Maria Gloriosa dei Frari, Venice, 1516-18, for Germano da Caiole
      • Titian, Pesaro Altarpiece, Pesaro chapel, Sta Maria Gloriosa dei Frari, Venice, 1519-26, for Jacopo Pesaro
      Seminar: How do these altarpieces differ from earlier ones in Venice and Central Italy? Why do you suppose the Frari nearly refused to pay Titian for his Assumption? How were they persuaded, and what does their ultimate acceptance say about changing contemporary attitudes?

    24. DISCUSSION: Remember Michelangelo's Battle of Cascina and Leonardo's Battle of the Anghiari, both for the Council Hall, Palazzo Vecchio, Florence, and left incomplete in 1506. Why did central Italian artists try so hard to find gestural ways of making the body expressive? What did the Venetians do to be expressive? How does the idea of emotional expression relate to, or conflict with, Classical values?

      Courses Introduction

      PART III - Mannerism


    25. Sarto, Pontormo (Deposition, Visitation), Rosso, Bandinelli
      Read: 332-5
      • Andrea del Sarto, Madonna of the Harpies, for high altar San Francesco, Via Pentolini, Florence, 1517
      • Rosso Fiorentino, Dei Altarpiece, Dei Chapel, Santo Spirito, Florence, 1522
      • *Pontormo, Deposition, Capponi Chapel, Sta Felicita, Florence, 1525-28
      • Baccio Bandinelli, Hercules and Cacus, Piazza della Signoria, Florence, 1525-34, for the Medici
      Seminar: How do these works compare or contrast with those of the High Renaissance? What effect(s) do these Florentine Mannerists seem to be trying to achieve? Try to find images of the whole of the Capponi Chapel, and of Rosso's Descent from the Cross (1421), now in Volterra, and consider them too.

    26. Last Judgement, Michelangelo
      Read: 402-04
      • Michelangelo, Last Judgement, Sistine Chapel altar wall, 1534-41, for Pope Paul III
      Seminar: Try to imagine this image without the clothes. Why do you think the Pope collapsed with horror when he first saw it? Was this Michelangelo's intention, do you think?

    27. Later Titian, and Tintoretto
      Read: 386-91 (what has happened to Titian's style and mood?); 391-94
      • Tintoretto, Annunciation, entrance room of Scuola Grande di San Rocco, Venice, 1587
      • *Tintoretto, Last Supper, San Giorgio Maggiore, 1592-4, probably for Prior Michele Alabardi
      Seminar: Consider the Scuola Grande Annunciation and the S Giorgio Maggiore Last Supper, and explain how Tintoretto's concept of the spiritual differs from Raphael's. Try to find other later works by Tintoretto (after 1560) and consider also what is new about his painting style. Pick out some extreme examples.


    28. Pleasure rooms and villas (Raphael, Titian, Giulio, Correggio)
      Read: 363-70, 352-3
      • Raphael's workshop, Wedding of Cupid and Psyche, garden loggia, Villa Farnesina, Rome, 1518-19, for Agostino Chigi (who owned the villa)
      • Giovanni Bellini, Feast of the Gods, Albaster Pleasure Room, Ducal Palace, Ferrara, 1514, with additions by Titian and Dossi in 1429, for Alfonso d'Este
      • Titian, Bacchus and Ariadne, Albaster Pleasure Room, Ducal Palace, Ferrara, 1522-23, for Alfonso d'Este, duke of Ferrara
      • Giulio Romano, Wedding of Cupid and Psyche, Sala di Psiche, Palazzo del Tè, Mantua, 1527-30 (picnic and party villa in the countryside)
      • Correggio, Jupiter and Io, Pleasure Room, Ducal Palace, Mantua, early 1530s for Federigo Gonzaga, duke of Mantua
      Seminar: What similarities and differences do you find between these works and those of the High Renaissance? What are these commissions for?

    29. Parmigianino, Bronzino, Giambologna, Cellini
      Read: 370-73, 400-401
      • Parmigianino, Madonna of the Long Neck, for Baiardi Chapel, Santa Maria dei Servi, Parma, 1534 (left incomplete 1540), for Elena Baiardi
      • Bronzino, Allegory with Venus and Cupid (Allegory of Time), mid 1540s, from Cosimo I de' Medici for Francis I, king of France
      • Benvenuto Cellini, Perseus, Loggia della Signoria, Florence, 1545-54, for Cosimo I de' Medici (as companion piece to Donatello's Judith and Holofernes)
      • Giambologna, The Rape of the Sabine, Loggia della Signoria, Florence, 1579-83 (before completion it already replaced Donatello's Judith and Holofernes)
      Seminar: What stylistic features do these artists have in common? What effects do they seem to be trying to achieve through their style? Are these effects intended for public or private consumption, do you think?

    30. DISCUSSION: Do the Mannerists seem to think they are developing or replacing High Renaissance values in art? How valid are the concepts of "Maniera" and "Counter Maniera"? Does the original thesis of interpatron competition hold good for Mannerism?

      Courses Introduction