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IT2400 Art and Literature in Renaissance Florence

IT2400 Art and Literature in Renaissance Florence

Term 1 and 2

Convenor: Dr Daniela Cerimonia


40% Essay 1 (1,500 – 2,000 words)  
60% Examination 


Florence in the 15th century was one of the most vibrant and innovative artistic and cultural centers in Italy and Europe. The cultural, philosophical and artistic life of Renaissance Florence is the focus of this course which combines the analysis of Renaissance painting, mural decoration and sculpture with that of writings on art from the time. We look in detail at a number of works of world famous Italian Renaissance artists such a Masaccio, Sandro Botticelli, Leonardo da Vinci, Raphael and Michelangelo. We shall also take a close look at theoretical texts discussing the role of the arts and the comparison between the arts by artists and literates such as Alberti, da Vinci, Aretino and Vasari. The course also includes a guided visit to one of the best collections of Italian Renaissance painting outside Italy, the National Gallery, London.


Set texts:

Alberti, On Painting (London: Penguin, 1991)

Leonardo, [extracts from] Trattato della Pittura (On Painting) (London : Peter Owen, 1965)

A selection of poems by Michelangelo will also be made available in class.

Vasari, Giorgio, [extracts from] The Lives of the Artists (London: Penguin, 1965) (London: Penguin, 1965)

Set artworks:

Masaccio: Madonna and Child, 1426, London, National Gallery (henceforth NG); Crucifixion, c. 1426, Museo Nazionale di Capodimonte, Naples; The Trinity, fresco, Church of Santa Maria Novella, Florence; The Tribute Money, fresco, Cappella Brancacci, Church of Santa Maria del Carmine, Florence.

Botticelli: The Adoration of the Magi (NG and Uffizi, Florence); The Virgin and Child with Saints (also known as the San Barnaba altarpiece), Uffizi, Florence; The Madonna del Magnificat, Uffizi, Florence; Madonna del libro, Museo Poldi Pezzoli, Milan;Madonna of the Pomegranate, Uffizi, Florence; Primavera, Uffizi, Florence; Birth of Venus, Uffizi, Florence; Mars and Venus, NG; The Mystic nativity, NG.

Leonardo da Vinci: The Baptism of Christ (Leonardo and Verrocchio), Uffizi, Florence; The Annunciation, Uffizi, Florence; Ginevra de’ Benci, Uffizi, Florence; Adoration of the Kings, Uffizi, Florence; Madonna and Child with St Anne (cartoon), NG; Madonna and Child with St Anne, Louvre, Paris

Michelangelo: Madonna of the Step, Casa Buonarroti, Florence; Battle of the Centaurs, Casa Buonarroti, Florence; David, Galleria dell’Accademia, Florence (and copy at the Victoria and Albert Museum, London); Tondo Pitti, 1504-05, Museo Nazionale del Bargello, Florence; Madonna and Child with infant Baptist (Taddei Tondo), The Royal Academy of Arts, London; Doni Tondo, Uffizi, Florence

Raphael: The Mond Crucifixion, NG; The Marriage of the Virgin, 1504, Brera, Milan; The Ansidei Madonna, NG; The Granduca Madonna, 1504, Galleria Palatina (Palazzo Pitti), Florence; The Belle Jardinière, 1507, Louvre, Paris; The Madonna del Cardellino (Madonna with the goldfinch), 1507, Uffizi, Florence; The Madonna del Prato, 1506, Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna; The Borghese Entombment, Galleria Borghese, Rome; Portrait of Agnolo Doni, 1506, Galleria Palatina (Palazzo Pitti), Florence; Portrait of Maddalena Doni, 1506, Galleria Palatina (Palazzo Pitti), Florence

Secondary and introductory reading:

Blunt, A. Artistic Theory in Italy 1450-1600. (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1962)

Burke, Peter, The Italian Renaissance: culture and society in Italy (Cambridge: Polity , 1987)

Praz, Mario, Mnemosyne: the parallel between literature and the visual arts (London : Oxford UP, 1970)

 Rubin, P. and A. Wright (eds) Renaissance Florence: the art of the 1470s (London: National Gallery Publications, 1999)

Welch, E. Art in Renaissance Italy (Oxford and New York: OUP, 1997)



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