The course will use on-site visits to museums, churches, palaces, historical sites, and other pertinent locations to study the significant monuments of Italian art throughout history. Special emphasis will be given to the Renaissance and Baroque periods; however Ancient and Medieval art and architecture will be investigated as well to understand the influence of these art forms upon later art movements.
The first week will be spent in Florence, the heart of the early phase of the Renaissance, with a day trip planned to nearby Siena. Here one can see the best examples of late Medieval and early Renaissance art and architecture from the 13th to the 16th century. The unique contribution of the Sienese school is contrasted to Florentine Renaissance styles. Questions of patronage, aesthetic theory and judgment, and the development of Civic Humanism will be addressed.
Then we will travel to Venice to explore the inimitable role that Venetian artists played in the development of a broader language of Renaissance artistic styles, and experience that unique watery city and its illustrious history. Venice’s role as a gateway to Asia and to the Byzantine culture will be examined as it relates to new developments in painting.
The remainder of the trip is spent in Rome, where examples of Ancient Roman, Early Christian, 16th century High Renaissance, and 17th century Baroque art are abundant. From the great ruins on the Forum and the Coliseum, to the Vatican treasures and Bernini’s great public fountains, we will explore the monuments that have defined Italian artistic traditions.
Since so much of the Western art tradition is rooted in the art of the Italian peninsula, we will discover the foundations of style and content found in Italian art from all periods that influenced subsequent artists from modern times. Basic questions regarding ideal form, the creation of significant meaning, and common subject matter in art will be addressed, as well as the link between art and the ideas embodied in the writing of great Italian thinkers of the past, among them Dante, Petrarch, Machiavelli, and Galileo .