How to Look at Italian Art 2

Grab a cup of coffee as we look at Italian masterpieces in detail, from Roman mosaics through to the Renaissance, Baroque and today. Each session includes a lecture presentation; short background readings that shed light on the selected artwork; and an hour of guided discussion. Our sessions are limited to ten participants, so you’ll have an opportunity to contribute directly. From the Italian context we’ll move out to art appreciation in general, allowing you to gain more from any museum or exhibition you visit. There is no assumption that you have attended our prior meetings.


  • This class will be delivered online via the online platform Zoom.
  • This course requires students to have an email, a reliable internet connection, a microphone/speakers and access to a tablet, smartphone or computer.



  • Before each session, you’ll receive an email with a link to a high-resolution version of the image selected for that week, as well as a 60-minute pre-recorded video lecture summarising the context of the chosen image and a hand-out summarising this in writing. You’ll also receive a primary source document relevant to the week’s image, and a list of further readings online.
  • During the week’s session, you’ll spend one hour on ZOOM, as your tutor guides you and your fellow students through a discussion of the week’s image. Further relevant images will be shared with you onscreen during the session. Please note that your online class size will be limited to 10 students.
  • After each weekly session, you will receive a handout summarising the discussion in writing, including a list of the further images shared during our online discussion.
  • This basic session outline will be repeated for each of the course’s ten weeks, as we explore the following themes: 1) the body in Italian art; 2) portraits, self-portraits and the face; 3) emotions; 4) ekphrasis; 5) abstraction; 6) geometry; 7) colore vs disegno; 8) landscape; 9) light; 10) the city.
  • Artists explored in depth will include: Signorelli, Antonello da Messina, Caravaggio, Vedova, Jeffrey Smart, Claude Lorrain, the Macchiaioli, Guttuso and more.

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

  1. Formally analyse key Italian artworks.
  2. Discuss the main approaches to developing art appreciation skills.
  3. Recognise the media components of Italian art, ca 1000-1990.
  4. Identify major trends in Italian art.

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