Art History: Italian Renaissance

The course is devised for people who would like to develop their interest in works of art and the discipline of art history. This course will analyse Italian Renaissance from the two powerful artistic rivals of that time, Florence and Venice. The “Disegno” (drawing) in Florence and the “colorito” (coloring) in Venice are two distinctive artistic achievements that differ not only in execution and appearance but in their very conception. Review the work of some of the most influential artists of the Renaissance such as Giotto, Bellini, Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci and more!


  • Ernst H. Gombrich, The Story of Art, Phaidon Press Ltd, 01 April 2009.
  • The Italian Renaissance, J.H. Plumb, Morris Bishop. Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2001
  • The Art of the Italian Renaissance: Architecture, Sculpture, Painting, Drawing, Rolf Toman. Publisher: HF Ullmann (Sep 15, 2011)
  • Medieval Sourcebook: The Golden Legend (Aurea Legenda), compiled by Jacobus de Voragine, 1275, Englished by William Caxton, 1483
  • The lives of the Artists, Vasari, Oxford World’s Classics, 2008


  • 1350 – 1450, Early Renaissance in Venice and Florence: A new standard in architecture. The Renaissance style of architecture emerged in Florence not as a slow evolution from preceding styles, but rather as a conscious development put into motion by architects seeking to revive the golden age of classical antiquity. In Venice, architectural style moved away from Gothic influence to adhere to stricter classical forms.
  • 1350 – 1450, Early Renaissance in Venice and Florence: Revival of the Greco-Roman sculpture. The demand for sculpture during the quattrocento and cinquecento remained largely ecclesiastical, even though mercenaries' statues were also commissioned. Donatello was in many ways the most representative sculptor of the quattrocento. The chronology of his work reflects the changing aesthetic of the times. Andrea del Verrocchio produced the best metalwork of his day and was the greatest sculptor between Donatello and Michelangelo.
  • 1350 – 1450, Early Renaissance in Florence: The Masters of a new direction in painting. Early Renaissance painting was basically a period of experiment, characterized by the new notion of “Humanism,” a philosophy that downplayed religious and secular dogma and instead attached the greatest importance to the dignity and worth of the individual. The first artist to interpret the new style is Giotto.
  • 1350 – 1450, Early Renaissance in Venice: The Masters of a new direction in painting. At the time of this new contact with Florentine artists, the most noted representatives of Venetian painting were the three members of the Bellini family, Jacopo and his sons Gentile and especially Giovanni, who became known as the Father of Venetian painting. They will be followed by Andrea Mantegna and Vittore Carpaccio who enriched hi scenes with a wealth of naturalistic detail that may have been influenced by his study of Northern painters
  • 1450 – 1550, High Renaissance in Florence: Sculpture. Sculpture during the late-15th and early-16th-century gradually assumed a greater individual importance in relation to architecture and painting. Thus, architecture became more sculpture-like, culminating with famous works by Michelangelo.
  • 1450 – 1550, High Renaissance in Florence: The culmination of the exploratory research of the predecessors, characterized above all by the ideal qualities of harmony and balance, displayed in the works of Raphael, Leonardo da Vinci and Michelangelo.
  • 1450 – 1550, High Renaissance in Venice: Painting in Venice followed a similar type of path to that of the Renaissance in Florence, albeit with a Venetian twist of Titian, Veronese and Tintoretto.
  • 1550 – 1600, Mannerism: The end of the Renaissance period, already challenged by subversive artists lead by example of Michelangelo’s later works, Pontormo and Parmigianino in Florence.

By the end of this course, students should be able to:

  1. Define the works of art for their historical value and in its historical context;
  2. Recognise various scenes represented in art which include an understanding of iconography and symbolism;
  3. Follow a methodology to help read a work of arts in terms of lines, colours, and perspective;
  4. Identify art works for those planning to travel to the sites discussed in the course.